FinMin asks States to vaccinate banking industry personnel on ‘priority’ basis

 

This is the second letter from the Department of Financial Services in a month

The Finance Ministry has once again written to the States requesting them to consider putting in place a special dispensation for vaccinating the staff of banks, insurance companies, business correspondents, payment systems and other financial services providers on ‘priority’ basis.

In a letter written on Friday to the Chief Secretaries of States, Debashish Panda, Secretary, Department of Financial Services (DFS), has re-emphasised their critical role in ensuring that branches/offices remain open and functional and continue to provide the complete suite of services to customers. The DFS letter has highlighted that vaccinating the staff of banks and other financial services providers on priority will go a long way in boosting their morale and enhancing their enthusiasm for seamless provision of financial services. The letter pointed out that many bank officials had even succumbed to the virus with some of them losing their lives.

Since bank staff have to necessarily commute from their homes to their offices/branches and the said officers/branches have to function and remain physically open, may I request your personal attention in kindly instructing all district my magistrates/superintendent of police and other local authorities to cooperate with bank and financial services employees, provide adequate safety and security to them and not hinder or impede their functioning or movement,” said Panda in his letter. It may be recalled that the finance Ministry had, on April 22, written to the State governments to put in place a special system to vaccinate the employees of banks, insurance companies and financial services providers, including banking correspondents and cash logistic providers, on a priority basis.

Unfortunate instances

Besides the request to the States for vaccinating bankers on priority, the DFS secretary has also drawn attention to some unfortunate instances that had taken place recently in different States/UTS, where bank employees have been manhandled by State law enforcement authorities. “Likewise, offices of banks and branches have occasionally been ordered to shut down even during permitted banking hours, accompanied by threats. While bank employees are already braving risks to their health and need to be assured about their safety, these incidents result in the exact opposite and end up demoralising them and their families, which leads to disruption in services. This becomes an impediment to account holders access to funds in their hours of need, disbursement of DBT payments, extension of credit to mitigate disruptions to business which should otherwise be uninterrupted and seamless,” said Panda.

He has also highlighted that the Home Ministry had, in its April 29 order, declared banking industry as providers of essential services.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs on the management of Covid 19 pandemic had recently recognised banking and other financial services industry personal as ‘Covid Warriors’.