By Simran Jalan (email@example.com)
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in its press release on ‘Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies’ dated August 1, 2018, sets out various policy measures. One of the initiatives introduced relates to co-origination of loans by the banks and NBFCs for lending to the priority sector.
Before delving into the initiative, we shall briefly discuss the concept of priority sector and priority sector lending (PSL).
Categories of priority sector
Priority Sector category includes agriculture; micro, small and medium enterprises; export credit; education; housing; social infrastructure; renewable energy and others.
According to the Master Circular – Priority Sector Lending- Targets and Classification issued by RBI, the total priority sector lending (PSL) for domestic scheduled commercial banks (excluding Regional Rural Banks and Small Finance Banks) should be 40% of Adjusted Net Bank Credit or Credit Equivalent Amount of Off- Balance Sheet Exposure, whichever is higher. Further, there are also sub-targets specifically for agriculture, micro enterprises and weaker sections.
Commercial banks are required to meet the PSL requirement specified in the aforesaid circular. However, banks neither have the outreach nor the inclination to reach out to the communities living in geographically remote areas. The banks are even unable to perform credit evaluation or credit underwriting of the borrowers falling under the priority sector category due to lack of outreach. Consequently, apart from direct funding, banks have been exploring several options for meeting the minimum requirement:
- On-lending: In this structure the loan is sanctioned by banks to eligible intermediaries for onward lending only for creation of priority sector assets.
- Direct Assignment: Banks enter into transaction with NBFCs for assignments/ purchase of pool of assets representing loans under various categories of priority sector, as prescribed under the aforesaid circular.
- Business Correspondent: Commercial banks intending to increase their outreach have been engaging the services of BCs. Such NBFCs or other eligible entities provide various services such as identification of borrowers, collection, recovery, follow-up and such other ancillary services. The loans under various categories of priority sector are originated in the books of the bank through the assistance of BC.
- Co-lending: Both banks and NBFCs enter into a co-lending arrangement, whereby the exposure on the borrower is in a pre-decided ratio.
Though, there are existing regulations on direct assignment as well as appointment of BC, currently the co-lending arrangement is not regulated under any existing guidelines of RBI.
Co-lending regulations awaited
As per the press release, RBI shall be coming up with such guidelines wherein schedule commercial banks (excluding regional rural banks and small finance banks) may co-originate loans with systematically important non-deposit taking NBFC for fulfilling their mandatory priority sector lending requirement.
Under the co-lending arrangement, there would be joint contribution of credit by both lenders at the facility level. The said arrangement shall also involve sharing of risks and rewards between the banks and NBFCs, as per their mutual agreement. The risks and rewards could be shared equally or in a proportion which shall be predefined.
This step is taken by RBI to provide a competitive edge for credit to the priority sector and to mitigate the challenges faced by the banks on priority sector loans. The NBFCs operates on low cost infrastructures and have reach to the remote locations. Coming together with NBFCs shall definitely assist the banks to meet their PSL requirements with ease.
The guidelines have not yet been issued and it is expected that RBI shall come out with its regulations for governing such co-lending arrangement by the end of September 2018. In consequence, there can be a decline in the direct assignment arrangement undertaken by banks. The reason being that in co-lending there is joint origination and the risk and rewards are shared in a mutually agreed proportion, however, in case of direct assignment, the NBFC transfers the loan portfolio and has no residuary interest left. Such difference can lead to a decline in the direct assignment transactions undertaken by banks with NBFCs.