Benchmark Prime Lending Rate (BPLR) is the rate at which commercial banks charge their customers who are most credit worthy. According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), banks can fix the BPLR with the approval of their Boards. However, the RBI stipulates the interest rates as BPLR is influenced by the Repo rate and Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) apart from individual bank's policy.
Base rate is the minimum interest rate of a bank, below which it cannot lend, except for DRI allowances, loans to bank's own employees and loans to bank's depositors against their own deposits. The base rate system has replaced the BPLR from July 1, 2010. Since then the BPLR is gradually losing its importance except for the loans taken before July 1, 2010. In such cases, RBI has allowed to continue with BPLR at which the loans were approved. They were, however, given the option of switching to the base rate before the expiry of their loans.
RBI does not fix the base rate. Individual banks fix their own base rates and so each bank has its own base rate. The calculations of base rate involve elements which can be clearly identified and are common across buyers. Banks have to declare their respective base rates in the website in order to make lending more transparent.
Click here to read what are the differences between Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) and Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR)?
According to RBI policies, banks have to revise their base rate at least once every quarter. However, banks can review the base rates more than once a quarter. After doing the required calculations banks decide whether to enforce the new rate or carry on with the existing one.
Importance of base rate and prime lending rate
The base rate gives a clear indication that the bank may not be able to lend below this. In short, it is a clear cap on lending. The Benchmark Prime Lending rate, allows creditworthy customers an opportunity to avail loans at these interest rates. If you are a customer who is looking to avail at these rates, you need to talk to your bank. Most of these banks have clearly set policies, which may not allow them to change the interest rates. This is fixed for most categories like home loans, though fo personal loans some private sector banks may be in a position to alter or change the rates.