State Bank of Travancore (SBT) has announced a 10 basis-point cut in the base rate to 10.15 per cent effective from March 16.
SBT is the first off the block to act in the post-Budget phase that saw the RBI go for a second off-cycle review of the repo rate.
Sources in the bank told BusinessLine that the rate cut would be immediately transmitted to borrowers since most loans are linked to base rate.
Asked if this how this would reflect on deposit rates, they said the bank was not in a position to make ‘forward-looking’ statements since it is awaiting SEBI approval for a rights issue.
Industry watchers say that from a bankers’ point of view deposit rates need not be impacted immediately since they are prospective.
This is not case with lending rates, which become universally applicable for all borrowers, they said.
A meeting of the Asset-Liability Management Committee (Alco) of SBT had taken the decision in response to the accommodative stance of the RBI that cut repo rates by a cumulative 50 bps in the last three months.
Explaining the logic, bank sources said that it was now more or less clear where the interest rate curve was heading.
Also, inflation rates and other macro-economic parameters which would normally decide how interest rates would behave have been moving along a path that the RBI wanted them to move.
There is also an expectation among borrowers that the advantage accruing on account of repo rate would be transmitted to them.
In fact, the RBI itself has been talking about the need for transmission, and there was only a question of when and not whether this would happen.
And if indeed the bank had to make a move, it had to be done at a time when the bank itself was convinced that the right time had arrived.
‘Time had come’
The Alco was convinced that the time had indeed come, the sources said.
Last but not the least, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha had gone on record saying that he would like to see public sector banks taking the importance decision to move after RBI had acted a second time.
The sources also recalled the ‘glide path’ for interest rates as set out by the Urijit Patel Committee.
Another major enabling factor was the agreement signed by the Finance Ministry and RBI mandating the latter to bring interest rates to four per cent with a margin of two per cent as early as from 2016.
Sources clarified that it was not a conscious move to move ahead of others, when reminded that SBT had sought to act at a time when even market leader and parent SBI was mulling its option.