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Basel III Norms in India: Meaning, Requirement and Impacts on Indian Banking system

26-NOV-2015 15:38

    Basel III or Basel 3 released in December, 2010 is the third in the series of Basel Accords. These accords deal with risk management aspects for the banking sector. So we can say that Basel III is the global regulatory standard on bank capital adequacy, stress testing and market liquidity risk. (Basel I and Basel II are the earlier versions of the same, and were less stringent). Norms to be implemented from March 31, 2015 in phases and would be fully implemented as on March 31, 2018

    What does Basel III is all about?

    According to Basel Committee on Banking Supervision "Basel III is a comprehensive set of reform measures, developed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, to strengthen the regulation, supervision and risk management of the banking sector".

    Thus, we can say that Basel III is only a continuation of effort initiated by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision to improve the banking regulatory framework under Basel I and Basel II. This latest Accord now seeks to improve the banking sector's ability to deal with financial and economic stress, improve risk management and strengthen the banks' transparency.

    What are the objectives / aims of the Basel III measures?

     Basel 3 measures aim to:

    1. Improve the banking sector's ability to absorb ups and downs arising from financial and economic instability
    2. Improve risk management ability and governance of banking sector
    3. Strengthen banks' transparency and disclosures

    Thus we can say that Basel III guidelines are targeted at to improve the ability of banks to withstand periods of economic and financial stress as the new guidelines are more stringent than the earlier requirements for capital and liquidity in the banking sector.

    What are the major changes proposed in Basel iii over earlier accords i.e. Basel i and Basel ii?

    1. Better Capital Quality: One of the key elements of Basel 3 is the introduction of much stricter definition of capital.  Better quality capital means the higher loss-absorbing capacity. This in turn will mean that banks will be stronger, allowing them to better withstand periods of stress.
    2. Capital Conservation Buffer: Another key feature of Basel iii is that now banks will be required to hold a capital conservation buffer of 2.5%.  The aim of asking to build conservation buffer is to ensure that banks maintain a cushion of capital that can be used to absorb losses during periods of financial and economic stress.
    3. Countercyclical Buffer: This is also one of the key elements of Basel III. The countercyclical buffer has been introduced with the objective to increase capital requirements in good times and decrease the same in bad times.  The buffer will slow banking activity when it overheats and will encourage lending when times are tough i.e. in bad times. The buffer will range from 0% to 2.5%, consisting of common equity or other fully loss-absorbing capital.
    4. Minimum Common Equity and Tier 1 Capital Requirements: The minimum requirement for common equity, the highest form of loss-absorbing capital, has been raised under Basel III from 2% to 4.5% of total risk-weighted assets. The overall Tier 1 capital requirement, consisting of not only common equity but also other qualifying financial instruments, will also increase from the current minimum of 4% to 6%. Although the minimum total capital requirement will remain at the current 8% level, yet the required total capital will increase to 10.5% when combined with the conservation buffer.
    5. Leverage Ratio:  A review of the financial crisis of 2008 has indicted that the value of many assets fell quicker than assumed from historical experience.   Thus, now Basel III rules include a leverage ratio to serve as a safety net.  A leverage ratio is the relative amount of capital to total assets (not risk-weighted).   This aims to put a cap on swelling of leverage in the banking sector on a global basis. 3% leverage ratio of Tier 1 will be tested before a mandatory leverage ratio is introduced in January 2018.
    6. Liquidity Ratios: Under Basel III, a framework for liquidity risk management will be created. A new Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) and Net Stable Funding Ratio (NSFR) are to be introduced in 2015 and 2018, respectively.

    Systemically Important Financial Institutions (SIFI): As part of the macro-prudential framework, systemically important banks will be expected to have loss-absorbing capability beyond the Basel III requirements. Options for implementation include capital surcharges, contingent capital and bail-in-debt

    How Basel III Norms Will Affect Indian Banks?

    The Basel III which is to be implemented by banks in India as per the guidelines issued by RBI from time to time will be challenging task not only for the banks but also for Government of India. It is estimated that Indian banks will be required to raise Rs 6, 00,000 crores in external capital in next nine years or so i.e. by 2020 (The estimates vary from organisation to organisation). Expansion of capital to this extent will affect the returns on the equity of these banks especially public sector banks. However, only consolation for Indian banks is the fact that historically they have maintained their core and overall capital well in excess of the regulatory minimum.

    DISCLAIMER: JPL and its affiliates shall have no liability for any views, thoughts and comments expressed on this article.

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