The Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, said: "A revised ombudsman scheme is being put in place."

Our Bureau

Kolkata, Nov. 11

THE Reserve Bank of India has decided to rehaul the entire Banking Ombudsman Scheme, first by shifting the onus of funding the scheme to itself.

The move will immediately relieve the banks of the need to bear the costs.

More importantly, it will also correct what is plainly seen as erroneous - banks being the agencies that fund the office of the ombudsman and the very entities against which an aggrieved customer can lodge complaints.

The Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, said: "A revised ombudsman scheme is being put in place," adding that the plan is in line with the customer-centric objectives that RBI has set for itself. He was addressing the inaugural session at BANCON 2005 in Kolkata on Friday.

The objectives are two-fold: One, building better relationships with customers, and two, ensuring greater transparency in banking operations. The new scheme, which will meet the customer satisfaction goals set by the bankers, is a reflection of the 2010 vision document prepared by IBA (Indian Banks' Association), he said.

Later, in his address, Dr Y.V. Reddy, RBI Governor, further dwelt on this matter, pointing out that serious discussions have been held. It will be introduced within the next few weeks, he said.

If customers are not satisfied with the banks then they can take their grievances to the ombudsman. However, customers feel that the ombudsman takes the side of the banks.

Moreover, if the bank is not satisfied with an order of the ombudsman then they can move to higher authorities. Customers do not enjoy such privilege.

"In this context, it is felt that the role of the ombudsman needs to be strengthened. So, the new scheme is been considered," he added.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 12, 2005)
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