Seeking to allay the fear of employees that the merger of public sector banks would lead to the closure of six entities, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Sunday said no banks have been asked to deviate from their present routine and functions. She further said that no bank would be closed and no employee removed.
“There is no closure of banks. No banks are being asked to do anything different from what they were doing. In fact, we are giving them more capital to do what they were doing,” Sitharaman said at a press conference.
The Finance Minister’s remarks come two days after members of the All India Bank Employees’ Association on Saturday staged a protest in Chennai against the Centre’s decision to merge 10 public sector banks into four entities. Similar protests took place in Bhopal, Kolkata, and some other parts of the country as well. The merger announcement was followed by a move to infuse equity of Rs 55,250 crore in these banks to enable them to grow their loan book.
“Absolutely, ill-informed. I want to assure every union in every one of these banks to please recall what I have said last Friday. When we spoke about the amalgamation of banks I have very clearly underlined the fact that there shall not be one employee removed. Not at all”, she told PTI.
When asked about the economic slowdown, especially on the back of the GDP growing at a mere 5 per cent in the first quarter, Sitharaman said she was holding meetings with various stakeholders and industry experts to know their expectations from the government.
“The government has been in consultation with a lot of sectors. In some sectors, the inventory is piling up. I am meeting industry experts and taking their inputs, suggestions on what they would want and expect from govt. I have already done this twice. I will do it more number of times,” she said.
Sitharaman, who was in Chennai to address officers of Customs, Goods and Service Tax and Income Tax department, said there would not be any closure of banks and no bank was being asked to do something new. “More capital is being given to banks and they will continue to do more of what they were doing earlier,” she said.
The data released by the National Statistical Office showed that the growth has slowed down in five out of eight sectors, reflecting the widespread weakness in the overall economy. The GDP growth rate has now slowed for the fifth consecutive quarter with the previous low recorded at 4.3 per cent in March 2013.
Asked about former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that the ongoing slowdown in the economy was a result of ‘all-round mismanagement’ by the Modi government, Sitharaman refused to give a direct answer.
“Is Dr Manmohan Singh saying that ‘instead of indulging in political vendetta they should consult sane voices?’ Has he said that? All right, thank you, I will take his statement on it. That is my answer,” she said.
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