RBI announces further steps to counter the impact of COVID-19

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on April 1, 2020, announced additional measures to counter the impact of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the national economy

April 1, 2020

COVID-19 has claimed over 42,000 lives between December 2019-March 2020, while around 860,000 people have contracted the disease in over 180 countries

The pandemic has brought human and goods movement around the world to a halt and is expected to cost the global economy well over US$1 trillion in 2020

The time period for realization and repatriation of export proceeds for exports made up to or on July 31, 2020, has been extended to 15 months from nine months

The Government of India has announced an Rs.1.7 trillion (US$22.5 billion) relief package to help the most vulnerable fight the economic impact of the disease

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on April 1, 2020, announced additional measures to counter the impact of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the national economy. COVID-19 has claimed over 42,000 lives between December 2019 and March 2020, while around 860,000 people have contracted the disease in over 180 countries. With a cure believed to be 12-18 months away, the disease is expected to spread rapidly in the coming weeks. The pandemic has brought human and goods movement around the world to a halt and is expected to cost the global economy well over US$1 trillion in 2020. The economic impact of COVID-19 is proving to be far worse than the 2008-09 financial crisis.

To ease the difficulties during this time, the RBI has released a new set of guidelines, these include: 

  • Extension of the realisation period of export proceeds

Presently, the value of exported goods or software exports is required to be fully realized and repatriated to the country within nine months of export. In view of the disruption caused by the pandemic, the time period for realization and repatriation of export proceeds for exports made up to or on July 31, 2020, has been extended to 15 months from the date of export. The measure will enable the exporters to realise their receipts, especially from COVID-19 affected countries within the extended period, and also provide greater flexibility to the exporters to negotiate future export contracts with buyers abroad.

  • Review of Limits of Way and Means Advances of States

The Reserve Bank had constituted an Advisory Committee to review the Ways and Means Limits (the limit for short-term credit) for State Governments and Union Territories (UTs). Pending submission of the final recommendations by the Committee, it has been decided to increase WMA limit by 30 per cent from the existing limit for all States and UTs to enable the State Governments to tide over the situation arising from the outbreak of the disease. The revised WMA limit, set at US$15.7 billion, will come into effect from April 1, 2020, and will be valid for the first half of the financial year, till September 30, 2020.

  • Implementation of countercyclical capital buffer

The framework on the countercyclical capital buffer (CCyB) was put in place by the Reserve Bank in terms of guidelines issued in February 2015 wherein it was advised that the CCyB would be activated as and when the circumstances warranted and that the decision would normally be pre-announced. The framework envisages the credit-to-GDP gap as the main indicator, used in conjunction with other supplementary indicators. Based on the review and empirical analysis of CCyB indicators, it has been decided that it is not necessary to activate CCyB for a period of one year or earlier, as may be necessary.

Meanwhile, the Government of India has announced an Rs.1.7 trillion (US$22.5 billion) relief package to help the most vulnerable fight the economic impact of the disease. The Government has also launched the Invest India Business Immunity Platform to assist entrepreneurs and businesses during the economic slowdown brought forward by the crisis. Additionally, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has launched a help desk to assist with any COVID-19 related export and import issue. The resource can prove to be vital at a time when global economic activities have been pushed into deep uncertainties.