Outsourcing of services to private agencies by banks fraught with risks

The heist of State Bank of India’s Rs.7.31 crore from Scientific Securities Management Services Limited (SSMSL) locker in Rajahmundry on last Monday has raised several questions, including how safe the public money was, what with the policy of Public Sector Banks giving huge cash to private outsourcing agencies to fill in their offsite Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).

During the Five-year Wage Agreement of 2007-12, the United Forum of Bank Unions had strongly opposed privatisation of banks and also outsourcing of some key services, including filling of cash in ATMs.

In the year 2009, all the bank employees went on strike, particularly members of National Confederation of Bank Employees who opposed the outsourcing of services. But under the wage agreement, all the unions forcibly agreed to outsourcing some services .

The SBI had accordingly given the job to TCS' Banking and Financial Services Solutions at All India level about four years ago. In turn, the TCS had given sub-contract to some three agencies in Andhra, including SSMSL. But the Rajahmundry robbery case has thrown light on the grave lapses of SSMSL agency in dealing with cash, recruitment of employees and security measures.

The SSMSL had recruited employees with minimum qualification of Class X or undergraduates.

Neither the bank nor the SSMSL has crosschecked the antecedents of the staff who produced some fake certificates, including police certificate and residence certificate. When contacted, Chander, Business Head, SSMSL, Bangalore, during his visit to Rajahmundry on Thursday in connection with the above case, said that he came to know about the fraudulent track record of some of the employees in their agency a few months back and started removing them one by one. “All the onsite ATMs are filled by our staff and offsite ATMs are given for outsourcing, but one of our staff members goes for surprise check once in a month,” said K. Chittibabu, Chief Manager of SBI, Main Branch.