The Telegraph
Thursday , March 27 , 2014
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Bank permit call on Monday

New Delhi, March 26: The Election Commission will take a call on new bank licences on Monday.

“I think most likely we will take up the issue on Monday,” Election Commissioner H. S. Brahma said when asked if the poll panel had taken a decision on allowing the RBI to issue new licences.

The electoral watchdog had asked why the Reserve Bank wanted to announce the licences in March when the process had begun long time back.

Brahma said the RBI had submitted the clarifications sought by the commission.

“The letter from the RBI came to us about a week back. We had asked them to clarify certain points. They have clarified,” he said.

About 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 the licences.

On the RBI’s concerns, Brahma said, “Our concern is simple. If you have done your job properly, if they are very confident about the rules and regulations, why should you refer to us? If they have done their job thoroughly, honestly, diligently, they should not have referred.”

The model code of conduct came into force earlier this month with the announcement of the schedule for the general elections.

Meanwhile, Brahma said the government had not approached the commission for the vetting of the AirAsia India licence or issuing ordinance to give more powers to capital market regulator Sebi.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) was given powers last year through an ordinance, which was first promulgated in July and later again in September, but it lapsed last month as a bill in this regard could not be passed in Parliament.

On whether oil marketing companies can reduce fuel prices, Brahma said, “If the oil companies operate under the market provisions of the country and have the rules and regulations, why should we interfere.”

The oil marketing companies are expected to reduce petrol prices on Monday.