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PM chides ‘lazy’ banks, FM vows autonomy

Calling upon the banking sector to establish banks which rank among the top banks of the world, Modi said that banks need to be run professionally and assured them that there would be no interference.

“But accountability is essential,” Modi said while addressing top executives of public sector banks and other financial institutions here on the last day of a two-day bankers’ retreat, ‘Gyan Sangam’.

Modi said that the government had no vested interest, and public sector banks can derive strength from this fact. Stating that India is a democracy, Modi said he is against political interference, but supports political intervention, in the interest of the people.

He said “political intervention will enable the voice of the common man to reach such institution”. Modi also called for an end to “lazy banking” and said that banks need to take a proactive role in helping the common man.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today termed the level of bad assets in the system as “unacceptable” and promised more autonomy for state-run banks to run business with a “commercial mindset”.

“There are unacceptable levels of NPAs (non-performing assets) in some cases and the banks have to be given a sufficient amount of leeway ... to deal with commercial issues with a commercial mindset,” Jaitley told reporters on the sidelines of a two-day bankers’ retreat here.

The Finance Minister said there is a need to bring about changes in many areas in state-run banks, including giving “far greater autonomy” and allowing them to hire the best talent. The two-day banking conclave, which started yesterday, is being held at a crucial time when India is moving towards accelerating the pace of growth, he said.

The government, which a majority owner in 27 public sector banks, that control over 70 per cent of the system, wants to hear the problems plaguing the sector from the bankers and external experts as “they know the best where the shoe pinches”, he said.

“I am certain this conference is going to pave a way for a new roadmap,” he added.

The Finance Minister said there was a need for the banking sector to fund infrastructure and manufacturing sectors.
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