PSB Talks To Align Strategies With National Priorities Get Mixed Feedback From Unions

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Bank unions are keen to become a part of the government’s agenda to create a national strategy for public sector banks, but many are already questioning the efficacy of this initiative and see it more as a performance review.

Over the last weekend, a number of public sector banks, at the behest of the Department of Financial Services, held individual exercises to align their strategies with national priorities. The objective of this consultation process is to prepare a roadmap for the future of the banking sector and align the lending culture to the country’s credit demand.

“As per the feedback received at many places, a performance review type discussion was held instead of an ideating session,” said Soumya Dutta, General Secretary, All India Bank Officers’ Confederation.

While appreciating the efforts by banks to get feedback from the ground level and hopeful that at least some of it will reach the top management of public sector banks and the government, Prem Kumar Makker, Vice-President, Indian National Bank Officer’s Congress, and former Director, Bank of Baroda, said: “We are also trying to get our own feedback as it is a mixed picture at present. Some places have reported that it was more of a review meeting, while others have said that the management made serious efforts to understand issues.”

Significantly, before the exercise started, bank unions had written to the Department of Financial Services, seeking to be made part of the discussions. In a letter to the DFS, AIBOC, which has over 3.2 lakh officers as members, had sought an opportunity to share its views on the various issues impacting the banks, customers, and employees.

“AIBOC, therefore, seeks representation in the Stage 2 and Stage-3 (National level) meeting with bankers to put forth our ideas as major stakeholders of the banking industry to foster growth and development of our nation,” it had said.

Similarly, the National Confederation of Bank Employees, had also highlighted the need for a wider national debate on the entire banking policy and to involve all stakeholders.

Public sector lenders, including Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda, and Corporation Bank, organised a two-day consultation process at the branch level on August 17 and 18 to get suggestions to make the sector future ready and be a catalyst in economic growth. The consultations were held under the direction of the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance.