MUMBAI (Reuters) - India does not need money from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the next six months, the finance minister said in a TV interview telecast on Friday, rejecting opposition charges the government was seeking access to the bank’s reserves to fund schemes ahead of the 2019 general election.
“I don’t need money in the next six months,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told Times Now news channel.
Critics accuse the government of trying to undermine the central bank’s authority, but Jaitley said his government respected the institution’s independence.
“We respect the autonomy (of the RBI) but, at the same time, if some sectors are starved of liquidity or credit, we will flag those issues. We do so with the RBI.”
The Congress, India’s main opposition party, has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of eyeing the cash reserves held by the RBI.
“Government is determined to ‘capture’ RBI in order to gain control over the reserves,” P. Chidambaram, a former finance minister and a top Congress leader tweeted last week.
New Delhi has been pushing for access to RBI’s surplus reserves prompting the central bank’s board to form an expert panel to look into whether its cash pool is adequate.
The board whose members include government nominees, in a meeting last week, advised the RBI to aid small businesses and give bankers more time to step up capital norms to encourage lending and stimulate the economy ahead of next year’s election.
Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Michael Perry