‘Nation needs fundamentally sound bank, not big bank’

Gurgaon, March 5 (IANS) India needs a fundamentally strong bank and not a big bank which will not address the needs of the common man, said a top official in a leading bank union.

“We need a fundamentally strong bank and not a big bank by consolidating different banks. What is needed is the expansion of the banking network rather than consolidation,” All India Bank Employees’Association (AIBEA) general secretary C.H. Venkatachalam told IANS over phone from Vietnam on Saturday.

He was reacting to union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s statement on bank consolidation after the “Gyan Sangam” — a two-day retreat here for top honchos of banks and financial institutions with finance ministry officials, the central bank (Reserve Bank of India) leadership and other key policy-makers.

Speaking about his budget proposal of constituting an expert group on bank consolidation, Jaitley said on Saturday that this will be accorded utmost priority. “What we need are strong banks. There shouldn’t be any weakling in the link.

“What we need are strong banks than numerically a large number,” he said.

Jaitley also said the bankers have themselves suggested measures on consolidation.

The finance minister also said the government is also considering ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Scheme) for bank employees.

Responding to that, Venkatachalam said public sector bank employees are already committed to their banks and there is no need to offer ESOPs to retain talent.

He also dismissed, as a joke, Jaitley’s statement that wilful bank loan defaulters will not be spared, noting nothing would change unless such an action (wilful default) is categorised as a criminal offence.

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