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FM Sitharaman Assures Bankers They Will Not be Hauled Up for Genuine Commercial Decisions

File photo of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. (AFP)

File photo of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. (AFP)

Nirmala Sitharaman also urged bankers to give emphasis on branch-based banking and improve customer ease.

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: February 27, 2020, 3:37 PM IST
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New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday assured bankers that they will not be hauled up for genuine commercial decisions even if the call goes wrong due to business reasons.

She, however, added that the decision taken with malafide intention will be dealt with as per the law.

"They are at least now reassured that the government is repeatedly making a distinction between vigilance based decisions and those which are not. We have made it very clear that genuine commercial decisions even if they have gone wrong because businesses went down are not going to be held against their decision making at all," she said.

Addressing heads of public sector banks here, the Finance Minister said bankers have gone through a period of churning starting with Asset Quality Review in 2015 leading to some disorientation among them.

"So many things have to be reset, so many things have to be reoriented and till today, many of us still feel we need to give that extra push to people move forward with that without fear or without any suspicion in their minds that the intent with which that they working is well-meant, well-intended and therefore it is done with certain sense of professionalism and nothing more to worry about," she said.

The Prime Minister has spoken with a great sense of assurance that there will be a clear, divide between genuine commercial decisions which banks are taking and which is critical to running and banks, as different from those in which they could be vigilance angle, she said.

She also urged bankers to give emphasis on branch-based banking and improve customer ease.

"Even today, when people come to meet me, they've been voicing worries about how at branch level we can be a bit more friendlier," she said.

Coming back to branch-level banking, she said branches are now losing personal touch which needs to be restored.

Customers expect that little level of touch from bankers, she added.

Observing that ratings from credit rating agencies are not advisory, she said it is just an indicator of a customer.

So the decision solely based on the advice of a credit rating agency should not be taken.

"Was there ever a directive from either the Reserve Bank of India or Indian Banks' Association to say that you will blindly follow the rating agencies figures or numbers given to you. No," she said.

The finance minister also wanted banks to sensitize bankers about the government schemes at the branch level even if they are not concerned.

Meanwhile, the finance minister unveiled EASE 3.0, the Public Sector Bank (PSB) Reforms Agenda 2020-21 for smart, tech-enabled banking, and the PSB EASE Reforms Annual Report 2019-20.

EASE 3.0 seeks to enhance ease of banking in all customer experiences, using technology, FinTech, alternate data, and analytics.

Dial-a-loan for doorstep loan facilitation, Credit@click for end-to-end digitalised lending, on-the-spot EASE Banking Outlets at well-frequented places like malls and stations, palm banking, digitalised branch experience are part of a wide array of tech-enabled ease enhancements that PSBs would effect during FY2020-21.

At the launch function organised by Indian Banks' Association, individual PSBs gave a preview of the array of tech-enabled services that are in the pipeline or have been piloted and will be scaled up over the coming year across PSBs.

UCO Bank unveiled its plans for customers to obtain via app, portal or call center, Doorstep Banking Services offered collectively by PSBs as 'PSB Alliance', for services such as pick-up of cheques and income-tax exemption certificates and delivery of income-tax challan, drafts and account statements in major cities across India.

State Bank of India showcased Shishu e-Mudra app-based lending for instant sanction of working capital up to Rs 50,000 to existing small business customers of the bank and the bank announced its plan to scale up sanctioning through the app to Rs 1 lakh in branch-assist mode.

Union Bank of India gave a preview of its app for end-to-end digitalised lending to MSMEs of up to Rs 50 crore, which it proposes to roll out during the coming year.

Bank of Baroda showcased its tablet-based Tab Banking services for doorstep account-opening, including in villages and for migrant labourers in industrial units, and has created capacity for opening about 10,000 accounts per day.

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