EXCLUSIVE: Bankers may be working all 31 days of March with the government looking to double the loans doled out under the PM SVANidhi scheme

EXCLUSIVE: Bankers may be working all 31 days of March with the government looking to double the loans doled out under the PM SVANidhi scheme
The Indian government is asking bankers to work on holidays to double the loan disbursement under the PM SVANidhi scheme before the end of MarchBCCL
  • Regardless of whether it's a Sunday, Holi or Mahashivratri, public sector banks employees in certain parts of the country may be working all 31 days of March.
  • The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MOHUA) have sent orders to work two extra Saturdays in March to double the disbursement of loans under the PM SVANidhi Scheme before the end of March.
  • In order for public sector banks to meet their internal targets as the financial year comes to a close, some are calling their employees to work on Sundays and holidays as well.
Public sector banks are always anxious in March as the financial year draws to a close. It's not uncommon for the management to ask employees to pull a few extra hours at work. However, this year, some public sector bank employees may be working all 31 days of the month.

On the one hand, the Indian government has issued an order asking banks to double the disbursements given out under the PM SVANidhi scheme. And, on the other, the banks have their own internal targets to meet when it comes to agricultural loans, MSME credit and other aspects.

Banks are on the lookout for more street vendors in need of credit

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Orders from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MOHUA) have asked these banks to step on the gas and work two extra Saturdays before the end of March.

According to official documents reviewed by Business Insider, the Indian government has set itself a goal to dole out 3 million loans under the PM SVANidhi Scheme. The programme was introduced in June 2020 by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to provide street vendors with collateral-free loans of up to ₹10,000 at low rates of interest for a period of one year.

However, at the time of writing this article, only 1.5 million loans have been doled out so far — which is only half of the target.

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Status of applicationsNumber of applications
Received3.8 million
Sanctioned2.1 million
Disbursed1.6 million
Source: MOHUA Dashboard as of February 25 at 7:38pm

In order to meet the deficit, the MOHUA has instructed all banks to organise camps on February 27, March 6 and March 13 — two of which are non-working Saturdays for bankers.

“The camps would be organised at central locations across the city, where every lending institution would put a desk and ULBs [Urban Local Bodies] would be responsible to mobilise the street vendors to these camps,” said the document sent out to banks.

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The ‘high priority’ document sent out by MOHUA secretary Durga Shanker Mishra also notes that the rejection of loans application based on low CIBIL scores is not advisable unless the borrower has defaulted on payments in the past.

A similar document, also seen by Business Insider, has been sent out by the Ministry of Finance “in order to speed up the sanction and disbursement of applications.”

No overtime compensation, no weekends off
Some banks — like the State Bank of India (SBI), Canara Bank, and UCO Bank — have taken it a step further and made all Saturdays working, including March 27.

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In some regions, like Punjab and Assam, bankers from Canara and SBI have been asked to come in on all Sundays and holidays of March as well due to impetus on agricultural loans, which also includes Holi and Maha Shivratri.

Not only do public sector banks have to meet the mandate of the government, but they have their own target to complete before the end of the year.

“He [circle head] has advised to form exclusive teams to recover all proforma NPA in all branches and RO [regional office] officials will be in the field on every Sunday and holiday till March 2021 end,” said one of the communications to a public sector bank branch manager, who wished to remain anonymous.

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This means public sector bank employees in specific regions will be working the entire 31 days of March without a single day off — without any overtime compensation of any kind.

Sources at multiple banks also told Business Insider that non-compliance with these instructions could lead to a ‘non-performance’ letter in an employee's file.This has bearance on future promotions and their career progression at the bank.

The move to call off holidays and weekends comes at a time when public sector bank unions are planning a two-day strike to protest the government's privatisation initiatives in March.

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