oppn parties Big Banks Will Need To Be Leaner And Better Governed

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  • Supreme Court stays Karnataka HC order blocking operations of Kannada news channel Power TV. Says right to free speech must be "zealously protected" by courts
  • Opposition slams Centre for Samvidhan Hatya Diwas, says the Constitution is being murdered on daily basis under the present BJP government
  • Centre notifies June 25 as 'Samvidhan Hatya Diwas'. This was the date on which Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency in 1975
  • Bengal moves SC against state governor for keeping 8 bills pending
  • Mamata Banerjee meets Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai, says 'khela on' and promises to campaign for his party in the Maharashtra assembly elections
  • Stars and eminent persons from across the globe attend the wedding of Anant Ambani with Radhika Merchant at the Jio World Convention Centre in Mumbai
  • Controversial IAS trainee Puja Khedkar faces dismissal from service if her quato and disability claims are found false
  • SC says stay on bail should be in rare cases like terrorism or where order is perverse otherwise personal liberty and Article 21 will go for a toss
  • Supreme Court says judicial review of arrests by ED is necessary to check improper exrecise of power to arrest
  • Supreme Court grants interim bail to Arvind Kejriwal in the money laundering case in Delhi liquor policy case but he will remain in jail as he is under CBI detention in the corruption case in the same scam
  • Retail inflation rises to 5.1% in June, the highest in 4 months
  • Government to avoid merger of BSNL-MTNL. Instead, MTNL's operations will be shifted to BSNL to give the latter an all-India presence
  • Women's U-19 Asia Cup: India to clash with Pakistan on July 19
  • Paris Olympics badminton draws: P V Sindhu in easy group but gets a tough draw later while H S Prannoy and Lakshya Sen might clash in pre-quarter finals
  • After two consecutive wins, India look to seal series when they meet Zimbabwe in the 4th T20 today
BJP and allies win all 9 seats they contested in the Maharashtra Legislative Council poll
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Big Banks Will Need To Be Leaner And Better Governed

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator.

The government has rightly taken a decision to merge some PSU banks to create bigger, and hopefully better, banks. This magazine had been the first to cite sources to report that a mega merger of banks was on the cards over a week ago. But a merger of banks can only be successful if several other things are streamlined. Smaller banks have lesser checks and balances but serve a purpose in catering to regional areas and small businesses. But with a plethora of banking licenses issued now and a host of NBFCs catering to such needs, they have outlived their purpose. Bigger banks with better checks and balances and stronger balance sheets can focus on big projects and evaluate the risk factors in a better way. They can be more competitive, locally as well as globally, and can benefit from economies of scale if the problems of overstaffing, multiple branches at close-by locations and decision-making inertia are taken care of.

The government has announced that it will allow banks to appoint chief risk officers at market-linked remuneration. This is a step in the right direction. But if banking is to be taken to greater heights, market-linked remuneration has to be offered to all. The additional revenue outgo on this account can be neutralized if staff strength and number of branches is reduced. But bank unions are very vigilant and will not allow this. Hence, the most important thing now is to bring the unions on board.

The other thing to be tackled is related to technology. Banks in India use two platforms for core banking and merging the platforms is very difficult. The SBI and some other banks use TCS developed BaNCS while the Bank of Baroda and some others use Finacle developed by Infosys. Although the government has taken care to merge banks on the same platform, going forward, the need is to have a common tech platform for all banks.

The government must also tackle the decision-making inertia that has gripped PSU banks due to big loans going bad and the needle of suspicion pointing to collusion by bank officers. Some senior officers of many banks involved in major scams have been arrested too. This has made even senior bank officers fearful of taking decisions. With the state of the economy, big projects are also not being planned. Rajnish Kumar, the Chairman of SBI, has said that the reports of liquidity crunch in the banking sector are not true as the SBI is willing to lend up to Rs 1 lakh crore but there are no big borrowers. This is a problem that can only be solved if demand for goods and services rises and entrepreneurs plan big projects. But creating big banks, streamlining risk assessment processes and appointing risk officers will ensure that the banking system will be ready for lending to entrepreneurs when they plan big projects as and when demand picks up.