By Ashwini Agarwal
First publised on 2021-05-05 15:16:11
It is good that the RBI has taken proactive and early measures to alleviate the hardships that are certain to be caused to individuals and businesses due to the local lockdowns in many states because of the second wave of Covid-19. The RBI has earmarked Rs 50000 crore which the banks will lend to the utmost priority medical sector, more especially to vaccine manufacturers, diagnostic labs and others at lower interest rates. It has also allowed restructuring of loans of individuals and small business, subject to some conditions, to allow them to escape being branded as NPAs and reduce stress. The apex bank also took a slew of measures to infuse liquidity in the system.
The on-tap liquidity window of Rs 50000 crore would be available to set up Covid-related healthcare infrastructure. Under this priority lending scheme, "banks can provide fresh lending support to a wide range of entities, including vaccine manufacturers, importers/suppliers of vaccines and priority medical devices, hospitals/dispensaries, pathology labs, manufacturers and suppliers of oxygen and ventilators, importers of vaccines and Covid-related drugs, logisitic firms and also patients for treatment" said RBI governor Shaktikanta Das. Since healthcare is going to be the foremost priority sector for a long time, this is an excellent move.
Recognizing that individual borrowers and small firms will be stressed once more, the RBI has allowed loan restructuring (and not a moratorium) for them. Individuals and MSMEs borrowers can avail one-time restructuring till September 30, 2021. This covers those having exposure up to Rs 25 crore, and those that were standard as of March 31 this year.
The RBI also announced that it will relax the overdraft facility norms for state governments grappling with the Covid crisis. It also indicated that it will buy G-Sec worth Rs 35000 crore on May 20.
These measures will go a long way in quantitative easing and give an impetus to the fight against Covid-19 by empowering a host of healthcare providers.