‘Not all banks will be privatised’, assures Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman amid strike

‘Not all banks will be privatised’, assures Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman amid strike Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (Picture source: ANI)

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman assured the protesting bank employees that not all banks will be privatised and the interest of bank employees will be protected. She said this during the Cabinet briefing in New Delhi at National Media Centre on Tuesday (March 16). During her address, she added that the government decision about the privatisation of banks will not affect the interests of its employees while she announced Public Enterprise Policy, “We have announced a Public Enterprise Policy, where we have identified four areas where public sector presence will be there, in this, financial sector too is there. So, not all banks are going to be privatized.”

“Interests of workers of banks which are likely to be privatized will absolutely be protected – whether their salaries or scale or pension, all will be taken care of,” she said. “Even for those banks which are likely to be privatized, the privatized institutions too will continue to function after privatization; the interests of the staff will be protected, ” she assured.

Sitharaman also said that it is the responsibility of the Centre to ensure workers’ interest, she said, “Even when we talk about privatization or disinvestment we recognize that each one of the units performs for the economy; these units need investment It is our duty to ensure the workers’ interests are protected and that the institution functions further.”

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Talking about the need for investment Nirmala added that India needs more banks of the size of State Bank of India. “We have quite a few banks, but we need banks which will be able to scale up. We need many more banks of the size of SBI, to meet the aspirational needs of the country,” she noted.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also announced the Cabinet decision to set up Development Finance Institution (DFI) which will take up long-term fund development.”Union Cabinet has cleared the setting up of a Development Finance Institution (DFI), in acknowledgement of the realization that both development and financial objectives will matter for setting up a DFI,” she said on Tuesday (March 16). “Past attempts to have alternative investment funds were taken up, but for various reasons, we ended up with no bank which could take up long-term risk (which is very high) and fund development,” she added.

Her announcement comes at a time when Banks all over India called in a 2-day strike on March 15-16 to protest against privatisation of Public sector banks.

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According to Agency ANI, United Forum of Bank Union, which is an umbrella body of nine bank unions, with over 10 lakh bank employees and officers had called a two-day nationwide strike on March 15 and 16 against ‘retrograde banking reforms’. The strike came after Sitharaman’s budget announcement where she announced the privatisation of two public sector banks (apart from IDBI Bank) as part of the government’s disinvestment drive to generate Rs 1.75 lakh crore. Apart from the bank unions, all the unions in four general insurance companies will be on strike on Wednesday. All the unions in LIC are on strike on Thursday, while unions of four insurance companies have called for a strike against the privatisation of public companies.

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