Bank staff to take out morcha to Parliament on Friday, meet PM

C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All-India Bank Employees' Association

Bank employees and officers will take out a morcha to Parliament on Friday (September 15) against what they describe as anti-people banking reform measures.

Thousands of bank employees and officers are expected to participate in the programme, said C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All-India Bank Employees’ Association.

‘SAVE BANKS, ECONOMY’

“We propose to meet the Prime Minister and submit a memorandum to him on these issues,” Vekatachalam said. “Our demand is save banks, save economy, save nation, and save people.”

There is need to further strengthen the public sector banks and open more and more branches to serve the people, he said. But the Centre is trying to privatise the banks.

Public sector banks have registered phenomenal growth during the last four decades. But many private banks have collapsed due to mismanagement by their owners and inefficiency.

The track record of private banks is known to all. In the last 30 years, 30 private banks have collapsed due to mismanagement by private owners.

To ensure that people’s money is safe in banks, public sector banks have to be strengthened and not privatised.

‘PRECIOUS PUBLIC SAVINGS’

Today, these banks have a total deposit of Rs. 110 lakh crore. Privatisation will result in handing over these huge, precious public savings to private hands and is hence not advisable.

Public sector banks alone cater to the credit needs of priority sectors such as agriculture, employment generation, poverty alleviation, women empowerment, rural development, education and health, infrastructure, and exports.

Loans are given at concessional rate of interest. If banks are privatised, their motive will be only higher profits and interest rates will be higher. The priority sector will be neglected with adverse impact on the economy.

The unions also opposed merger of banks since compared to many countries in the world, banking density in India is still very low.

“There are thousands of villages without access to banking facilities. So we need expansion of banks and not consolidation,” Venkatachalam said.

‘NAME, SHAME DEFAULTERS’

More branches are to be opened in these areas. Consolidation will be needed only when there is saturation to expand. In India there is enough need, scope and space to expand.

In fact the only real issue in the banks, as the unions perceive it, is the alarming increase in bad loans. Banks are saddled with huge bad loans of nearly Rs. 15 lakh crore.

The bulk of these bad loans is due from private companies, business houses and corporates. What is required today is their recovery and not the hand-over of banks to them.

The unions demanded that the Reserve Bank publish the list of loan defaulters of more than Rs. 10 crore and take stringent measures to recover bad loans.

‘UNFAIR SERVICE CHARGES’

Recovery laws should be amended to expedite the process and wilful default should be declared a criminal offence and criminal action taken.

Venkatachalam also referred to what he described as unfair service charges and penalty charges imposed by State Bank of India and others.

While reducing the rate of interest of savings deposits, banks have increased service and penal services for various types of normal banking services.

He faulted them also for waiving loans of big corporates and private companies but burdening general customers.

The unions also demanded withdrawal of the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, which gives sweeping powers, including winding up of institutions and their hand-over to private hands.

[“Source-timesofindia”]