Banks played a significant role in the growth of a country, according to Minister for Rural Industries and Animal Husbandry Pongalur N. Palanisamy.

At the annual conference of the South Indian Bank Officers' Association here on Sunday, he said that banks in India were doing well while several banks had turned bankrupt in the United States. The Indian banks were stringent in lending. The Non-Performing Asset (NPA) level in South Indian Bank was less than one per cent. The Tamil Nadu Industrial Cooperative Bank had 43 branches and an annual turnover of Rs. 5,000 crore. Its NPA level was three per cent earlier and was 2.5 per cent now.

Employees had an important role to play in the growth of an organisation. They grew with the development of an organisation, he said.

K. Ananda Kumar, vice-president of the All India Bank Officers' Confederation, said the capital adequacy ratio of the South Indian Bank exceeded the Basel III norms. When a bank was doing well, especially in its financial parameters, there should be no fear of merger.

One of the resolutions passed by the association at the conference on Sunday opposed the moves by the Central Government to raise the Foreign Direct Investment limit in private sector banks to 100 per cent. The Government was also seeking to remove the cap on voting rights of the shareholders in banks, which was restricted to 10 per cent now. This would affect the customers, employees and minority share holders.

Further, the association urged the Government to introduce five-days-a-week work schedule for all commercial banks in India. The work load of bank officers should be reduced and they should be compensated for the extra work in case they worked over time.

According to the association, the Reserve Bank of India and the Union Finance Ministry should formulate a National Banking Policy before proceeding with the proposed move for merger of banks. The Government should reject the recommendations of the Khandelwal Committee and the Indian Banks' Association should hold discussions with the All India Bank Officers Confederation on issues related to human resources.

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