Money & Banking

Implementation of Garib Kalyan, a major challenge for banks

G Naga Sridhar Hyderabad | Updated on March 30, 2020

Lockdown of villages, lack of staff are the main hurdles

While the country is fighting the coronavirus pandemic, banks are waging another battle to implement Covid19 relief measures announced by the Centre and some State governments. The Centre has announced a slew of measures, including an ex-gratia of ₹500 per month for 20 crore women who hold accounts under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) scheme. In addition, PM Garib Kalyan Yojana also includes cash transfers under the PM-Kisan scheme to farmers, senior citizens, and differently-abled persons.

“While banks have always been the main vehicles of execution, this time the task is huge and tough, going by the operational challenges with many branches not function for almost all banks,” a top official with State Bank of Inda told BusinessLine.

In addition, many States such as Telagnana, have also announced schemes such as Rythu Bandhu, which again have to be implemented by banks.

According to govt data, about 10,500 branches of public sector banks and 3,500 branches of private sector banks are not in a position of function in view of various restrictions and instructions of different State governments.

“We have been told to not only ensure branch fuctioning but also that of Bank Mitras (Business Correspondents) by the Ministry of Financein communication on March 27. But it seems to be a Herculean task,” said a top official with Andhra Bank.

Bankers say that due to the self-imposed lockdown of a number of villages due to the coronavirus threat, no outsiders, including bank staff, are not being allowed to travel smoothly, which is impacting the banking system. Of the nearly 1.30 lakh registered Bank Mitras, nearly half of them are unable to function, which leaves only about 70,000 who are able to work.

“People are afraid of touching our biometric devices, which are must to carry out all transactions. We are not being allowed,” B Raju, a banking correspondent in Polarvaram, Krishna district of Andrha Pradesh, told BusinessLine over phone.

“Most of the debit cards are in the dormant stage and most of the customers come to branches. With staff working on alternate days in many branches and social distance norms, it tough to handle them,” said V Anil Kumar, General Secretary, All-India Bank Officers’ Association (AIBOA). The government should take steps to depute staff from other departments such as revenue to support banks and to facilitate door to door distribution of cash,” he added.

Published on March 30, 2020

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