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With merger uncertainties continuing — IFCI VRS evokes poor response

Sarbajeet K. Sen

New Delhi , March 18

YOU have heard of desertion from a sinking ship. But here is a case of passengers on a seemingly sinking carrier desperately clinging on to it despite being offered a safe exit.

In what may come as surprise to many, the ongoing voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) of IFCI Ltd is turning out to be a major failure. According to sources, the scheme has hardly evoked any response with only a couple of persons opting for it. The scheme closes on March 31.

IFCI insiders say that the weak response is not hard to explain. They pointed that the employees are hesitant to take the offer primarily because they feel that the final word has not yet been heard on the merger plans. As things stand now, the official proposal is to merge IFCI with Punjab National Bank (PNB).

"Only three or four people have opted for VRS in this round. There has to be clarity on the proposed merger plans for employees to take a decision of such magnitude," said Mr Ram Khobragade, Convenor, Coordination Committee of IFCI Officers' and Employees' Association.

In fact, the coordination committee has recently written to the IFCI management asking it to extend the VRS offer for some more time so as to enable them to take a considered decision on their professional careers. "We have requested the management for extending the scheme till a clear picture on IFCI's future emerges," Mr Khobragade said. He said that IFCI staffers are still hoping that the decision to merge the institution with PNB is reversed in favour of an amalgamation with IDBI.

Mr Khobragade said that another reason for the poor response was that the ongoing VRS round was the second one that the management has come out with in quick succession. "Those employees who were in the twilight of their careers have already accepted the offer during the first round itself. The younger members of the staff who are left behind don't want to opt out in view of the bleak job opportunities outside. They would be willing to work in PNB even if they don't have a favourable deal if the proposed merger finally takes shape," he said.

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