What’s a Bank’s moratorium, and when does it come into play?

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What’s a Bank’s moratorium, and when does it come into play?

When does the Reserve Bank of India intervene, and what are among the key steps it takes?

The story thus far: On November 17, the Centre, performing on the advice of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), imposed a moratorium on Lakshmi Vilas Bank (LVB) for a interval of 30 days. The 94-year-old bank, primarily based in Karur, Tamil Nadu, has been fighting losses for 3 years. As its monetary place deteriorated, the regulator positioned it underneath the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework, which restricts sure operations relying on the severity of monetary stress. After permitting time for the bank to seek out buyers to shore up its capital, the RBI has appointed an administrator for the bank and mooted a merger with the Indian subsidiary of the Singapore-based DBS Bank. Related moratoria have been positioned within the current previous on different lenders too, together with Sure Bank and Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank.

What’s a moratorium?

The RBI, the regulatory physique overseeing the nation’s monetary system, has the facility to ask the federal government to have a moratorium positioned on a financial institution’s operations for a specified time frame. Below such a moratorium, depositors won’t be able to withdraw funds at will.


Normally, there’s a ceiling that limits the sum of money that may be withdrawn by the bank’s customers. Within the case of LVB, depositors can’t withdraw greater than ₹25,000 in the course of the one-month moratorium interval. Typically, the regulator permits for funds of a bigger quantum to be withdrawn in case of an pressing requirement, corresponding to medical emergencies, however solely after the depositor gives the required proof.

Usually, the moratorium is lifted even earlier than the initially stipulated deadline is reached. As an illustration, Yes Bank, which went right into a spiral whereas unsuccessfully looking for an investor, was positioned on a one-month moratorium beginning March 5, with a cap of ₹50,000 on withdrawals. With buyers led by State Bank of India (SBI) infusing ₹10,000 crore into Yes Bank, the moratorium was lifted on March 18.

When does it come into play?

Normally, the RBI steps in if it judges {that a} bank’s web price is quick eroding and it might attain a state the place it might not be capable of repay its depositors. When a bank’s property (primarily the worth of loans given to debtors) decline beneath the extent of liabilities (deposits), it’s at risk of failing to satisfy its obligations to depositors.


After banks have been nationalised in 1969, the RBI sought to at all times intervene to guard depositors’ pursuits and forestall business banks from failing. In 2004, it nudged State-owned Oriental Bank of Commerce(OBC) to take over the troubled non-public lender Global Trust Bank (GTB). As within the case of LVB, GTB was given time to discover a suitor for a merger. When it didn’t give you any names, however proposed infusion of overseas capital, the RBI refused permission and as a substitute insisted on the merger with OBC.

How does a moratorium forestall a ‘run’ on the bank?

A moratorium primarily helps forestall what is named a ‘run’ on a bank, by clamping down on fast outflow of funds by cautious depositors, who search to take their cash out in worry of the bank’s imminent collapse. Quickly, it does have an effect on depositors who could have positioned, for instance, their retirement with the bank, or collectors who’re owed funds by the bank however are fighting the gathering.

A moratorium provides each the regulator and the acquirer time to first take inventory of the particular monetary state of affairs on the troubled bank. It permits for a sensible estimation of property and liabilities, and for the regulator to facilitate capital infusion, ought to it discover that essential. Singapore’s DBS bank has promised to infuse ₹2,500 crore into the merged entity, as soon as it takes over LVB.


A key goal of a moratorium is to guard the pursuits of depositors. Even when they’re briefly handicapped by going through restricted entry to their funds, there’s a excessive chance that the bank would quickly return to regular functioning as soon as a bailout is organized.

Is the protection of funds assured?

It relies on whether or not the struggling bank or the regulator is ready to discover acquirers or buyers to save lots of the day. Within the case of Yes Bank, the RBI was ready to herald buyers who infused enough funds. With Lakshmi Vilas Bank, the regulator had a prepared acquirer with a sound capital base in DBS Bank India. Within the case of Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank, which is headquartered in Mumbai, the moratorium — regardless of being progressively relaxed for depositors — remains to be in drive, over a yr after it was imposed, and there may be nonetheless no signal of a purchaser.


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