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Opposition criticises government over interference in RBI

By Ians English

New Delhi, Jan 14: The opposition parties on Saturday accused the government of eroding the autonomy of the RBI following media reports that a Finance Ministry official was sent to the bank to oversee its chest currency operations in view of demonetisation.


The Congress, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Janata Dal United (JDU) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) said that the Modi government's move had weakened the regulatory body. Even the Shiv Sena, which is part of the BJP-led alliance at the centre and in Maharashtra, has slammed the move.

The employee unions of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday had expressed deep concern over alleged interference by the central government in the affairs of the apex bank. Calling the development 'regretful and unfortunate', Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha said the independence of several independent institutions in the country were compromised by the Modi government.

"RBI is a daylight manifestation how autonomy and independence of the most critical financial regulatory body in the country has been compromised. RBI is signing on dotted lines like a paper tiger. Nowhere in the world a government intervenes in such a brazen fashion," Jha told IANS.

He added that the unions at RBI were justified in holding a protest and taking it forward. CPI- M leader Brinda Karat took strong exception to the appointment of the offocial and supported the unions.

"The RBI's mandate of autonomy given by Parliament has been not only eroded but destroyed by the Modi government. And now it is adding insult to injury by sending an official directly to oversee (its operations). The unions are absolutely correct in strongly protesting against it," Karat told IANS.

JDU leader K.C. Tyagi opposed the move saying that several such attempts were made in the past to weaken the RBI. NCP leader Tariq Anwer called the attempt to depute a government official at RBI inappropriate. "It has been a tradition that RBI should be allowed to work independently. Any kind of direct monitoring by the government is not appropriate."

Union leader and Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai, Gajanan Kirtikar said "As per the RBI Act, the central bank is autonomous and the government can not interfere in its operations. Monitoring chest currency operations of RBI is not the finance ministry's job." "Now, we are going to hold discussions with those concerned. We will take to agitations if the decision is not rolled back," Kirtikar said.


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