Senior officials from the Union Finance Ministry and the state finance department on Thursday discussed measures to speedily restore banking services in cyclone-affected districts in Odisha, as well as the possibility of restructuring loans for those impacted.
Additional Secretary, Union Finance Ministry, Debashis Panda said, “Since day one, we are analysing the situation. We had instructed all banks to restore banking services immediately. But that was a challenge considering absence of power and (telecom) connectivity. Still, banks tried to provide services using alternative means.”
Panda added, “Where there is a delay in power and connectivity restoration, banking is being provided in an offline mode. you can take your cheques and pass books for transactions between Rs 2,000-5,000. As of today, 99 per cent brick and mortar branches are all functional. V-SAT in ATMs are missing and need to be restored. Puri and Khordha are facing this problem, but by end of this week 90 per cent of the problem should be corrected.”
Finance Secretary Ashok Meena said, “A meeting took place in the presence of banking companies and insurance companies as well as telecom operators to deliberate on restoring normal banking services in Puri, where 27-28 per cent ATMs are functioning. ATMs will start working after power is restored.”
“There was a discussion regarding the Reserve Banks master circular under which people have availed loans. (We discussed) how to restructure these loans, and whether they can pay interest at lower rates. One special State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) meeting happened on May 10. There it was recommended that the Kerala model be followed. Now, an SLBC task force has been formed. Further discussions will take place and the recommendations will be forwarded to RBI and government of India”, he said.