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Basel II Capital Adequacy Framework

Capital adequacy is the key measure of the soundness and stability of banks. Basel II, introduced in June 2004 by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision based in the Bank for International Settlements, Basel, Switzerland, is the current international standard framework for assessing capital adequacy of banks. This new framework replaces Basel I as the international capital adequacy norm for banks.

The key features of Basel II

The Basel II capital framework comprises three mutually reinforcing pillars, i.e.,

(1) minimum capital requirements,
(2) supervisory review process and
(3) market discipline.

Pillar 1-The calculation of the minimum capital requirements: The Pillar I aim to align the minimum capital requirement on account of credit risk, market risk and operational risk, more closely with the bank’s actual degree of risk. The options for calculating the capital charge for credit risk are the standardized approach and internal ratings based approaches (IRB).

The standardized approach is based on external credit ratings while the IRB approach, heavily relies on banks’ internal assessment of the components that define the risk of a credit exposure. The IRB approach, in turn, comprises two different methodologies: the foundation and advanced IRB approaches, depending on the sophistication of risk management systems of the banks.

The three options for calculating operational risk, which is a new feature in Basel II, are the basic indicator approach, the standardized approach, and the advanced measurement approach. A similar structure applies for measurement of market risk.

Pillar 2-The supervisory review process, aims to give supervisors more responsibility to verify whether banks have taken account of their entire risk profile and maintain sufficient capital to cover their risks and allows to capture the risks not specifically covered under Pillar I. The additional risks that should be considered by the regulators under Pillar 2 are credit concentration risk, treatment of interest rate risk in the banking book, liquidity risk and strategic and reputation risks. Accordingly, the regulators have the option of prescribe additional capital to mitigate such additional risks.

Pillar 3: Market Discipline requires banks to publicly disclose key information regarding their risk exposure, risk appetite and performance with a view to promote market discipline. It is expected that enhanced disclosure and transparency, will allow market participants to better assess the safety and soundness of the respective banks and thus exert stronger market discipline.

Overall Benefits of Basel II

Basel II is a comprehensive framework that provides banking institutions stronger incentives to improve risk measurement and management and regulators to take measures to improve safety and soundness of banks by more closely linking regulatory capital requirements with banking risk.

The Basel II Framework promotes a more forward-looking approach to capital supervision, and encourages banks to identify the risks they may face, today and in the future, and to develop or improve their ability to manage those risks. The advanced approaches of Basel II also require banks to stress test their portfolios based on a number of likely future scenarios. These features shield banks from facing unanticipated problems and facilitate their smooth functioning.

Further, Basel II introduces the concept of market discipline whereby market participants (such as depositors and shareholders of banks) also receive the opportunity to exert discipline over banks and thus, contribute to improving the financial strength of banks. Enhancing transparency and accountability through publication of prudential ratios and other information regarding banks enables the public to make better decisions regarding the management and performance of the bank. As such, the market is in a position to reward a bank displaying greater financial strength by giving it more business and penalising those of poor quality by avoiding the conduct of business with such banks.

Implementation of Basel II in Sri Lanka

Regulators in most jurisdictions around the world have implemented the Basel II framework and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka also joined the global trend by implementing the Basel II, in January 2008. Accordingly, banks are required to apply the Standardised Approach for credit risk, the Standardised Measurement Method for market risk and the Basic Indicator Approach for operational risk, in computing the capital requirements.

The Central Bank has decided to move to more advanced approaches (IRB approaches) beginning 2013. Once the Central Bank is satisfied that the banks have the appropriate models and risk management systems capacities, the permission will be granted for them to proceed with the IRB advanced approaches.


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