RBI’s solution for MSME loan woes: Public credit registry

The registry will give banks the entire profile, including past loan details, and also regular income flows of borrowers.

Viral Acharya, RBI Deputy Governor, has said that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) preferred fundamental changes to smoothen loan flow to micro-businesses through a public credit registry, rather than doling out forbearances.

This statement came almost a month after the central board “advised” the monetary authority to consider a restructuring scheme for loans up to ₹25 crore for stressed standard assets of borrowers from the micro, small and medium enterprise sector.

The advisory was issued amid pressure from the government to do more to support small businesses, which had been hit by the twin shocks of demonetisation and GST.

Moreover, as per the reports, the government had also pitched for easing the prompt corrective action norms, under which the RBI had placed 11 of the 21 state-run banks, to help banks lend more.

“At the RBI, we are quite excited about how we can solve the credit problems at the grassroots for micro entrepreneurs in a fundamental way rather than saying that when they default we will just give them forbearance and give them another six or nine months to pay up,” the deputy governor said while addressing IIT-Bombay’s annual Techfest.

Acharya, also added that the RBI was putting together a public credit registry that will give banks the entire profile, including past loan details, and also regular income flows of borrowers. According to Acharya, it can make a lender more confident and also reduce the rate of interest for a borrower as the risk assessment becomes easier.

As per news reports, Acharya admitted that it was a delicate matter and advocated an access rights design upfront rather than a lot of information being gathered by companies. The deputy governor also said in most countries with public credit registries, there existed a separate legislative framework focusing on critical aspects, including access rights.

He also stated, “we’ve not yet fully engaged with the government to get such a legislation through because the RBI already has certain rights under existing legislations. Work on the registry was happening in a “modular” manner and would take three-five years before every financial transaction is recorded.

He adds, “there was need to judiciously allocate finance to entrepreneurs rather than just giving away money. He also said there was an urgent need to focus more on skilling, since it was a very important determinant for growth.”

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