New bank licences in a few weeks: Rajan

The Reserve Bank will issue new bank licences in a few weeks, after seeking approval of the Election Commission, Governor Raghuram Rajan said today.

Over two dozen public and private sector applicants, including India Post, IFCI and large business houses such as the Anil Ambani group and the Aditya Birla group, have applied for bank licences.

The RBI is expected to issue only a few bank licences after completing due diligence.

"My sense is, if all goes well we should be able to do it in a few weeks," RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan told reporters after Finance Minister P Chidambaram addressed the central bank's board meeting.

Rajan, however, added that the RBI would seek formal approval from the Election Commission before issuing the licences as the model of code conduct is in force.

"Look, we have to (seek) the formal approval from the EC that announcing the bank licences will be okay. A number of people have said it will, but it would be best that the process is formally approved by the EC," he said, adding that the process was started last year and was not a new proposal.

Replying to questions on bank licences, Chidambaram said he had made no recommendations to the RBI, which had appointed the Bimal Jalan Committee to scrutinise the applications.

"The Jalan Committee report is before the RBI. I have not seen the Jalan Committee report. The RBI will take appropriate decisions. If at some stage the Governor wishes to share its content with me, then I would be very happy to listen. But I don't intend to speak," the Finance Minister added.

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