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Bank employees shouldered worst impact of demonetisation: Unions

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demonetisation

By Bappaditya Chatterjee and Venkatachari Jagannathan 

Kolkata/Chennai, Nov 2 : As bank customers suffered by waiting in long queues to withdraw their money from November onwards last year, another group of people — bank employees — endured the hardship of extended work hours and customer anger.

The employees, say bank unions, bore the major brunt of the sudden decision announced on November 8 last year by the Prime Minister.

“Banking personnel were rigorously working towards recovery of bad loans before the announcement of demonetisation, but the entire drive of recovery got derailed after the announcement as employees had to work day and night for giving service to depositors,” Sanjay Das, Assistant General Secretary of the All India Bank Officers’ Confederation, told IANS.

The bank unions said that of the more than 100 persons who lost their lives during the demonetisation chaos, over 10 were bank employees and officers.

Das said that despite the enormous amount of extra work put in by the employees, very few were compensated. “Over 50 per cent of employees and officers are yet to get their compensation for the extra work they did during the demonetisation period,” Das said.

According to C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary of the All India Bank Employees’ Association, the whole experience had left “a big scar in the minds of bankers”. He said a million bank employees handling 1,000 million people coming to branches to deposit old notes was certainly a big task.

He said the bankers were abused by the general public for not disbursing new notes and diverting the same to others. “The RBI made matters worse by saying that sufficient number of new notes were disbursed to banks,” he added.

He said the bank managements were not bothered about the problems faced by branch officials. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) also asked bankers to work on Saturdays and Sundays. Officials in the branch were in office till late in the evening. Although some clerical staff, he said, were paid overtime, officers were left out.

Pradip Biswas, General Secretary of the Bank Employees Federation of India, said that not only employees but even the banks had not been reimbursed by the government for the cost incurred on recalibration of ATMs.

Criticising demonetisation, Biswas doubted that the whole exercise was done to unearth black money as claimed by the government. “The annual report of the RBI revealed that Rs 15.28 lakh crore, or 99 per cent of Rs 15.44 lakh crore of scrapped notes, came back into the system after demonetisation. Now the question arises: was the demonetisation scheme designed to convert black money into white?” Biswas wondered.

He said the government had described it as a fight against black money, funding of terrorist outfits and counterfeit currency. “But all their claims have fallen flat,” he said.

“The scrapping of notes failed miserably in addressing its objective of striking a blow against the black economy. Instead, the side effect of the note ban has impacted the banking industry adversely,” said Das, who is also the West Bengal State Secretary for the union.

The massive inflows of bank notes put a strain on the banks’ daily operations and banking personnel were not able to focus on credit disbursement, which resulted in potential loss of banks’ income, Das said, adding that bank credit growth came down to about 5.1 per cent in 2016-17 from an average of 11.72 per cent in the previous five years.

The apex bank too has mentioned that banks’ preoccupation with exchange of notes and deposits was one the factors for low credit growth. “Credit growth touched a low in more than two decades on account of factors such as subdued state of economic activity, risk aversion of the banking sector… loan repayment by use of specified bank notes (old notes) and banks’ pre-occupation with exchange of notes and deposits following demonetisation,” said the RBI’s latest annual report.

D. Thomas Franco Rajendra Dev, General Secretary of the All India Bank Officers Confederation, said that, initially, they had welcomed the government’s move. “But it turned out to be a nightmare for the bankers.”

He said people thought bankers were at fault for not disbursing the new notes, but “the RBI supplied new currencies only to private banks daily and not to government-owned banks”.

Read more…Negative impact of demonetisation on economy transitory: Rating agencies

Dev said the government should probe whether new notes found their way into the hands of industrialists and businessmen directly from the currency printing presses.

But some senior bank officers differ with the unions about the impact of demonetisation on the economy in the long run. “Right now people are complaining, but one thing is certain that (huge) money has come into circulation. Banks have accessed low-cost deposits and, subsequently, lenders have reduced the lending rates,” said Punjab National Bank Executive Director Sanjiv Sharan.

One year down the line, economic conditions would improve, and with the government’s thrust on low-cost housing and infrastructure development, credit demand would grow, he added.

“For the time being it may seem that demonetisation is disturbing the economy. But in the long run, it will help it,” Sharan contended.

IANS

(Note Ban Series)

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FIR lodged against Shia Waqf Board chief for hurting sentiments of Sunnis

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Mumbai, Dec 18 : An FIR has been registered at JJ Marg police station against Uttar Pradesh Shia Central Waqf Board chief Waseem Rizvi by a Mumbai based organisation Raza Academy, for allegedly hurting religious statements of Sunni Muslims.

Earlier, the case was lodged against Rizvi on the basis of a complaint of the Sahaba Action Committee at Lucknow ‘s Chowk Police station.

In the complaint, the Sahaba Action Committee claimed that Rizvi had offended the members of Sunni sect of Islam by his remarks over their Caliphs.

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India retaliates after Pakistan violates ceasefire along LoC in Poonch

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Pulwama encounter

Srinagar, Dec 18 : India is strongly retaliated after Pakistan Army resorted to heavy mortar shelling    along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday.

Pakistan Army  violated ceasefire by indiscriminate firing with small arms, automatics, and mortars .The troops guarding the borderline retaliated and the  exchange of fire was continuing intermittently  when last reports came in. The unprovoked firing from Pakistan side began in the evening.

On December 12, an encounter broke out between militants and security forces in Sopore area.

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US pullout from INF Treaty may ruin arms control system: Putin

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Putin

Moscow, Dec 18 Russia will have to take additional measures to boost its security if the US withdraws from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

US withdrawal from the INF Treaty may ruin the entire arms control system, said the Russian President.

“Such a step will have the most negative consequences, and will noticeably weaken regional and global security,” Putin said while speaking at an extended meeting of the Russian Defence Ministry board, Xinhua news agency reported.

“In fact, in the long term, the talk is about the degradation and even collapse of the entire arms control architecture and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” he added.

For a long time, the US has been using unsubstantiated accusations that Russia had violated its obligations under the treaty as a pretext to withdraw from it unilaterally, thus violating the treaty itself, Putin said.

He agreed that the INF Treaty did not involve other countries which have medium and shorter range missiles.

“But what prevents us from starting negotiations on their accession to the current agreement, or starting to discuss the parameters of a new treaty?” Putin said.

The treaty, in modern conditions, plays the role of a stabilising factor, which allows maintaining a certain level of predictability and restraint in the military sphere, he said.

He recalled that the INF Treaty signed in 1987 involved the elimination of medium-range and shorter-range (500-5,000 km) ground-based missiles. At the time, the USSR had no other missiles, while the US had sea-based and air-launched missiles.

Russia, since the signing of the treaty, has developed sea-based and air-launched missiles, which was the cause for Washington’s concern, Putin said.

According to Putin, it will not be difficult for Russia, if necessary, to create appropriate land-based systems as a response to the US withdrawal from the INF.

However, Russia is always open to any proposals and initiatives that lead to the strengthening of universal security including the prevention of a new arms race in the interests not only of Russia, but of the US and the whole world, Putin said.

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