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Public sector banks take employees on board on road to efficiency

KOLKATA| MUMBAI: With more than a nudge from the finance ministry, public-sector banks from Bank of Baroda to United Bank of India have undertaken a consultative exercise with all their branches to come up with solutions to improve their operating efficiency under various parameters such as improvement in credit delivery, underwriting standards, financial inclusion and digital payments.

“This is the first time we have taken such an initiative. The broader theme is how to motivate branch level employees to align them with national priorities and how banks can contribute to make India a $5 trillion economy,” State Bank of India chairman Rajnish Kumar said.

The exercise was carried out over the weekend as directed by the ministry. It was a busy working Sunday for all top bank executives who have grabbed every opportunity to make their effort visible.

The exercise covers eight thematic papers — on issues such as increasing digita payments, corporate governance in PSBs, credit for India’s MSMEs, use of technology, retail lending among others – prepared by experts.

“The consultation process is aimed at stimulating ideas and inculcating a sense of involvement among bankers down to the branch level,” a note from the ministry said.

The ministry has listed credit support for the economy as the topmost national priority, followed by credit for infrastructure and doubling of farmers’ income. Home loans, education loans and export credit are also listed as priorities with schemes related to Swachh Bharat, women empowerment, Stand-up India, Blue economy and financial inclusion getting a mention.

SBI said that they conducted these regional level meetings across its 22000 branches. The suggestions coming from all the branches would then be compiled by the individual banks and then these would be presented at the respective state level bankers’ committee meeting set to be conducted next Friday and Saturday.

These banks will make a consolidated presentation of their findings to the finance ministry in September.

“With the economy at inflexion point, the policy decisions taken now will define the future of the banking and its contribution to economic growth. This bottom up consultative process will provide a platform for field personnel to represent and bring forward the grass root level challenges in their respective areas,” said Rajkiran Rai, managing director at Union Bank of India.

While the ministry has directed banks to get ideas from the grassroots, it would also review the performance of branches over a period of previous five years vis-a-vis opportunities available and growth potential in the respective command areas.

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