By Sunil Garodia
Rahul Gandhi has lost all sense of proportion. Referring to the payout of Rs 1.76 lakh crore from the RBI, the Congress leader said that "stealing from the RBI won't work." Does Rahul know what he is saying? How does taking full profits as dividend and revising the Economic Capital Framework (ECF) after the recommendation of an expert committee headed by the ex-RBI governor Bimal Jalan amount to stealing?
As if on cue, the Congress party also tweeted that "Rs. 1.76 lakh cr given to the govt by RBI is almost the exact same amount missing from Budget 2019 announcement. Where was that money spent? Why was it missing from the Budget? Looting the RBI like this only devastates our economy further & reduces credit rating of the bank." If what the tweet says is true, why didn't the Congress demand an explanation in Parliament? Making uninformed and false accusations have become the hallmark of the Congress.
There are certain norms for provision of reserves for the so-called bad days and many other things. These norms cannot be inflexible. They have to be reviewed periodically. It would be suicidal for the economy to ignore the present crisis and keep adding to the reserves when most other parameters show that they are more than sufficient to meet any immediate contingency. In any case, no amount of reserves will ever be sufficient to revive an economy that goes into recession on account of lack of demand. Since the private sector is not investing enough despite a reduction in interest rates, if the government does not intervene to make investments in infrastructure and other projects and schemes, people will not get money in their hands and demand will nosedive further. The government did not have the money. Hence, the decision to review the ECF and ask the RBI to transfer the full profits for the year as dividends cannot be faulted.
The committee headed by Bimal Jalan, after taking everything into consideration, had recommended keeping a reserve in the range of 5.5 to 6.5 percent of the RBI's capital. The only thing that can be disputed is that the government kept it at the lower end of the band to release a further Rs 52367 crore. Otherwise, everything has been done according to economic prudence and banking norms.
Rahul Gandhi should heed the words of other leaders of his party like Jairam Ramesh, Abhishek Manu Sanghvi and Shashi Tharoor and stop demonizing Narendra Modi. He should also apply his mind before rushing out to grab headlines by making sensational tweets. "Stealing" and "looting" are strong words not appropriate in the present context and show the Congress in poor light. He should realize that his plan of criticizing Modi for each and everything had boomeranged in the 2019 elections. Hence, he should now indulge in constructive criticism and not let his spin doctors dictate what he says.