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SBI's Great Move By Linking Saving Deposit Rates And Short-Term Loans To The RBI's Repo Rate

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| March 10 , 2019 , 19:43 IST

State Bank of India, controlled nearly a quarter of the banking system, on Friday announced linking of its savings deposits rates and short-term loans to the RBI's repo rate.

The new rates linked the external benchmark rate of the repo rate, will be effective from May 1, the bank said in a statement.

"To address the concern of rigidities in the balance sheet structure and address the issue of quick transmission of changes in the RBI policy rates, effective May 1, 2019, we've taken the lead in linking key pricing decision for savings bank deposits and short-term loans to the repo rate of the RBI," SBINSE-0.20 % said in a late evening statement.

Savings bank deposits above Rs 1 lakh constitutes around 33 percent of SBI's total deposit books, SBI managing director PK Gupta said.

Currently, the bank is offering a rate of 3.50 percent for savings bank deposit rates up to Rs 1 crore, and 4 percent above Rs 1 crore, he added.

"This is a major policy decision we have taken. A 25 bps reduction in the repo rate can result in a 7-8 bps cut in our MCLR now," Gupta told PTI.

But the move will not benefit all its depositors as the new rate is applicable only to those with a balance of over Rs 1 lakh in their accounts. Also, the move will, in fact, see large depositors losing on the interest rate as at present a savings bank holder get paid 4 percent annum after the RBI under D Subbarao had deregulated the pricing of deposit rates.

The repo rate is currently at 6.25 percent after the February 7 review where the central bank surprisingly lowered the repo rate by 25 bps.

SBI said it will link the savings bank deposits, with a balance above Rs 1 lakh to the repo rate with the current effective rate being 3.50 percent per annum, which is 2.75 percent below the present repo rate.

The bank has also linked all cash credit accounts and overdrafts with limits above Rs 1 lakh to the repo rate plus a spread of 2.25 percent.

The risk premia over and above this floor rate of 8.50 percent will be based on the risk profile of the borrower, as is the current practice, the bank said.

To insulate the small deposit-holders and small borrowers from the movement of external benchmarks, the bank has decided to exempt savings bank account holders with balances up to Rs 1 lakh from linkage to the repo rate, the bank said.

In a note, Anil Gupta, a vice-president & head of financial sector ratings at Icra said, "linking the savings deposit rates with policy rate will help faster repricing of liabilities for banks and help protect their profit margins."

"We expect more banks, especially all the public sector ones, and a few large private banks to follow suit, which will also be in line with RBI requirements to link these rates to external benchmarks," he added.

India rating director and head financial institutions Prakash Agarwal said, "the move will help the bank reduce volatility in its margins."

Despite the recent RBI rate cut, banks were struggling to reduce their lending and deposit rates as the deposit accretion continued to lag credit growth. Cutting deposits rate was not a feasible option amid slowing deposit growth.

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It can be recalled that banks were always slow to pass on the entire benefit of RBI rate cuts to borrowers, thus delaying the monetary transmission process.