RBI tightens norms for bank lending to gold finance cos

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Concerned over spurt in gold imports, RBI on Tuesday asked banks to reduce exposure to NBFCs giving loan against the precious metal and has set up a working group to suggest ways to deal with the issue.

The Reserve Bank, in Annual Monetary Policy Statement, has also asked banks to set up internal exposure limits for those non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) who have gold loans portfolio of more than 50 per cent of the total financial assets.

"Banks should reduce their regulatory exposure ceiling in a single NBFC, having gold loans to the extent of 50 per cent or more of its total financial assets, from the existing 10 per cent to 7.5 per cent of bank's capital funds," RBI Governor D. Subbarao said.

He further said that banks should have an internal sub- limit on their aggregate exposure to all such NBFCs.

The Working Group, headed by K U B Rao (a senior RBI official), will conduct a detailed study of the issues connected with rising gold import and loans. The group will submit its report by July-end.

Among other things, it will examine the current practices of NBFCs involved in lending against gold and also whether it is influencing price of precious metal.

RBI, Subbarao said, has been receiving complaints against some NBFCs which are not following the guidelines while giving loans against gold.

Concerned over the spurt in gold imports and loan against precious metal, RBI had earlier tightened the prudential norms to check excessive lending by NBFCs.

India's gold and silver imports during first 11 months of the current fiscal stood at USD 54.5 billion. It had imported gold worth USD 40.5 billion and silver worth USD 1.9 billion in the last fiscal.

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