There Will Not Be A Single Job Loss Due To PSU Bank Mergers, Says Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Chennai on Sunday. (Photo: PTI)

There Will Not Be A Single Job Loss Due To PSU Bank Mergers, Says Nirmala Sitharaman

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday allayed fears of job losses following the proposed merger of public sector banks, saying not even one employee shall be removed following the four consolidations.

“Absolutely, ill informed. I want to assure every union in every one of these banks to please recall what I said last Friday. When we spoke about amalgamation of banks, I have very clearly underlined the fact that there shall not be one employee removed. Not at all,” she told reporters in Chennai.

She was replying to a question on bank unions opposing the PSU bank merger plan on grounds that they would lead to job loss.

The government on Friday said that it would merge 10 public sector banks into four, bringing down the number of state-run lenders to 12 from 21. The PSU bank mergers would help in better management of capital, said Sitharaman while announcing the proposal as a part of a package of ‘reforms’ for the economy.

On Sunday, Sitharaman—who was in Chennai to address officers of Customs, Goods and Services Tax and Income Tax departments—said no banks would be shut down and no bank has been asked to do something new. “More capital is being given to banks and they will continue to do more of what they were doing earlier,” she said.

The bank merger plan is the second of the three sets of economic measures that the finance minister announced to spur the Indian economy, growth in which plunged to a six-year-low of 5 percent in the April-June quarter. On Aug. 23, she announced immediate rollout of the Rs 70,000 crore bank recapitalisation plan, a break-up of which was detailed on Friday.

When asked whether there was any slowdown in the Indian economy, Sitharaman said the government was responding to it sectorally, based on their requirement.

“Every sector of the Indian economy, when it approaches us, we hear them out for solutions that they want and we respond to it. Suggestions (from them) and what would they want and what they expect from the government of India—and I respond to them. I have already done (it) twice and I will do so more number of times. Every industry which has approached me I will respond,” she said.

Also read: Q1 GDP Growth: A Quarter Of Many Lows

Citing an example, Sitharaman said the automobile sector is in a transition phase as it has to produce engines and components that meet Bharat Stage VI emission norms that come into effect on Apr. 1, 2020. On the industry’s demand for a GST rate cut on automobiles, she said any such decision will be taken by the GST Council.

“I can only say we are responding to industry requirements,” Sitharaman said, when asked what her message would be to people who have lost jobs or fearing job loss. “Across the board there is no one particular answer that I can give, saying this is the magic wand. Sectorally, what they want, we are responding," she said.

Sitharaman said the government understands that the contours and tone of issues for each sector varied from one to the other.

“The automobile (sector) has an issue, agriculture has a different issue. So each sector has a sectorial requirement which we want to respond,” she said.

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