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Urjit Patel May Consider Resigning as Arun Jaitley’s Remarks Widen RBI-Govt Rift: Report

Sources told CNBC-TV18 that there is "irreversible breakdown between RBI governor and the government".


Updated:October 31, 2018, 9:26 AM IST
Urjit Patel May Consider Resigning as Arun Jaitley’s Remarks Widen RBI-Govt Rift: Report
File photo of RBI Governor Urjit Patel. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Urjit Patel may consider stepping down from the post following Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s scathing criticism of the central bank’s “lending spree”, CNBC-TV18 quoted sources as saying on Wednesday.

"RBI governor may even consider resigning. All options on the table," the report quoted a source familiar with the matter as saying. It quoted another source as saying that there is "irreversible breakdown between RBI governor and the government".

CNBC-TV18 has reached out to the RBI and the Prime Minister's Office, and their response is awaited, the report said.

CNBC-TV18 also quoted sources as saying that the government has initiated consultations with RBI under Section 7 of the RBI Act. The provision reportedly allowed the government to issue directions to the RBI “on matters of public interest”.

Warning of more "bad news", former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said, “If, as reported, Government has invoked Section 7 of the RBI Act and issued unprecedented ‘directions’ to the RBI, I am afraid there will be more bad news today,” he said.

Jaitley had on Tuesday blamed the RBI for failing to stop a lending spree between 2008-2014 that left banks with huge bad debts, inflaming a row that recently erupted between the government and the central bank.

On Friday, RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya warned that undermining a central bank's independence could be "potentially catastrophic", in an indication that it is pushing back hard against government pressure to relax its policies and reduce its powers ahead of a general election due by next May.

According to a Reuters report, government officials were very upset by Acharya's comments, which included a reference to problems created in Argentina when its government meddled in central bank affairs. The report quoted sources as saying that the RBI should not air confidential matters in public.

Acharya's speech came after a long-running tug of war between the government and the RBI over whether the central bank should part with some of its Rs 3.6 trillion reserves to fund the country's fiscal deficit.

| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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