Nationalised banks are making all-out bid to wean away the pensioners and government employees

Delay in installing automatic teller machines (ATMs) and allied banking facilities in pension treasuries is likely to deplete the fixed deposit base of the Treasury Savings Bank (TSB).

Finance Department sources told The Hindu here that the lion’s share of the fixed deposits in the Treasury Savings Bank, worth around Rs.6,000 crore, had been made by the five-lakh odd service pensioners.

While nationalised banks are making an all-out bid to wean away the pensioners and government employees offering a variety of sops, the State government continues to dither on enhancing the banking facilities.

This indecision is likely to take a toll on the deposit base, which will deprive the government of the leverage in addressing financial exigencies.

The government is yet to recover from the fallout of an earlier directive to heads of departments and public sector undertakings to park their funds in the nationalised banks.

When the financial crisis intensified, the government had directed them to withdraw the funds parked in the nationalised banks but it did not yield the desired results. Ultimately, the government was forced to borrow from different sources, including Rs.100 crore from the Toddy Workers Welfare Fund Board at 10.5 per cent interest.

ATMs getting delayed

Administrative sanction for setting up four ATMs at the Pension Treasury and the Secretariat as well as at the Ernakulam and Kozhikode treasuries was accorded long back.

But the modernisation programme had been moving at a snail’s pace giving way for the banks to widen their network. Installation of ATMs was one of the components of the modernisation drive but it had reportedly been delayed on the premise that there were hitches in securing the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) clearance.

The apex bank, it is learnt, had not posed any hurdles in setting up the machines. Cooperative banks had already provided the facility too.

Linking the ATMs through the National Financial Switch is also not a tough proposition for the government. The National Financial Switch is a mechanism conceptualised, developed, and implemented by the Institute of Development and Research in Banking Technology to inter-connect ATMs.

The government can either opt to join the network or decide to link the machines of the TSB alone in the interest of its clientele.

Pensioners’ trust

Even in the absence of such facilities, pensioners continue to maintain their deposits and place their trust on the TSB.

But a flow of deposits from the TSB to the banks will deprive the government of a major source and weaken its financial base, the sources said.

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