The finance ministry has suggested that the Reserve Bank of India pay 7% interest on the mandatory deposits parked with it by banks, one among several measures proposed to lower rates even if the central bank does not ease the monetary policy.
Banks have to mandatorily park a percentage of their deposits, called the cash reserve ratio, or CRR, with the RBI.
The central bank had stopped paying interest to banks on CRR in 2007.
Finance ministry officials are of the view that if the RBI were to pay interest at the reverse repo rate, or the rate at which banks park their surpluses with it, then banks will be able to lower their deposit rates, and eventually,lending rates will fall. At present, the CRR rate is 4.75%.
If the RBI were to agree to the proposal, banks will earn 7%, the reverse repo rate, on this portion of funds, helping them lower the cost of funds that can be passed on to borrowers. The RBI had not cut rates in its June 18 policy review because of the high inflation and lack of fiscal consolidation from the government.