GK Update – RBI Revises Priority Sector Lending Norms

Dear Readers,

The RBI has recently revised its Priority Sector Lending guidelines and this change could be important for your exams.

These new norms will be effective from January 1, 2016 and this will change the Private Sector Lending (PSL) target for Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) to 75 per cent of the total outstanding loans from the earlier 60 per cent.


On December 3, 2015, the RBI released a new set of norms that effectively supersede all the earlier guidelines as regards RRBs’ priority sector lending.

During the previous decade, RRBs have undergone major structural and operational changes which include two-phased amalgamation, implementation of Core Banking Solution platform or recapitalization. Given the increasing significance of RRBs vis-a-vis financial inclusion agenda, the RBI has revised PSL guidelines for RRBs.

Highlights of the Revised Guidelines

· A target of 75 per cent of total outstanding will be set to the eligible sectors for classification as Priority Sector Lending.

· The Priority Sector will be further categorized into – Medium Enterprises, Social Infrastructure and Renewable Energy – and will have a cap of 15 per cent of the total outstanding.

· Agriculture will have 18 per cent of the total outstanding to activities pertaining to it.

· A target of 8 per cent of the total outstanding has been prescribed for Small and Marginal Farmers within the umbrella of Agriculture.

· The PSL will be monitored on a quarterly and annual basis.

· Sub sector targets will be 18 per cent for Agriculture, 8 per cent for Small and Marginal Farmers, 7.5 per cent for Micro Enterprises and 15 per cent for Weaker Sections.

· These Weaker Sections include (i) artisans, village and cottage industries where individual credit limits are not more than ₹1 lakh, (ii) beneficiaries under Government Sponsored programs like National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM) and Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS), (iii) overdrafts up to ₹5,000 under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana accounts, provided the borrowers’ household annual income is not more than ₹1,00,000 for rural areas and ₹1,60,000 for non-rural areas, (iv) beneficiaries of the Differential Rate of Interest (DRI) scheme, and (v) individual women beneficiaries up to ₹1 lakh per borrower.

· No loan related and adhoc service or inspection charges should be applicable on priority sector loans of up to ₹ 25,000. In case of Self Help Groups or Joint Liability Groups, the loan limit should be applicable per member of the group and not to the group as a whole.

· A record in the form of a register or electronic log should be maintained by the bank in which the date of receipt, sanction, rejection or disbursement (whichever applicable) with specified reasons should be maintained. This record should be made available to all the inspecting agencies.

· Banks should provide acknowledgement for loan applications received under PSL. Bank boards should set a time limit within which the bank communicates its decision in writing to the applicants.

· Banks should ensure that the loans extended under priority sector are for approved purposes and the eventual use is continuously monitored. Proper internal controls and systems should be put in place by the banks in this regard.

Major Categories under PSL

· Education – Loans to individuals for educational purposes including vocational courses up to ₹10 lakh irrespective of the sanctioned amount will be considered eligible for priority sector.

· Housing – Loans to individuals of up to ₹ 20 lakh in purchase or construction of a dwelling unit per family, given the overall cost of the dwelling unit is not more than ₹25 lakh. This will not include housing loans to banks’ own employees.

· Loans for repairs to damaged dwelling units of families of up to ₹2 lakh.

· Bank loans of up to ₹10 lakh per dwelling unit to any governmental agency for construction of dwelling units or for slum clearance and rehabilitation of slum dwellers subject to a ceiling.

· Loans of up to ₹10 lakh per dwelling unit for housing projects exclusively for the purpose of construction of houses for economically weaker sections.

· Social Infrastructure – Bank loans of up to ₹5 crore per borrower for building social infrastructure for activities like schools, health, drinking water, sanitation, construction or refurbishment of household toilets and household level water improvements in Tier II to Tier VI centres.

· Renewable Energy – Bank loans of up to ₹15 crore for purposes such as solar based power generators, biomass based power generators, wind mills and non-conventional energy based public utilities like street lights. For individual households, this loan limit would be ₹10 lakh per borrower.

These are the major points about the revised guidelines by the Reserve Bank of India about Private Sector Lending. If you can understand these well, you will be able to attempt questions on it with greater ease.