Special Correspondent

A special officer would receive complaints and grievances from customers

CHENNAI: The Reserve Bank is launching an ombudsman scheme from the New Year to redress public grievances in banking transactions.

Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, who announced this here on Saturday, said a special officer, deputed by the RBI, would receive the complaints and grievances from the customers.

These would be recorded and each complaint would be given a unique identification number after which they would be sent to the banks concerned. On receipt of the banks' response they would be forwarded to the complainants. The ombudsman would have powers of courts.

Delivering the valedictory address at a multi-media campaign organised by the inter-media publicity coordination committee of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting here, the Finance Minister said complaints against services, including delay in sanctioning of loans, would be entertained. He wanted the banks to cooperate with the Government for success of the scheme.

Central assistance

Denying that the Central Government was partial in extending assistance to States affected by natural calamities, he said the rules and regulations were the same for all.

Regarding Central assistance to Tamil Nadu for flood relief work, he said there were three components in providing assistance to the States - relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation. After the floods, the Centre had sanctioned Rs. 1,000 crore to Tamil Nadu for immediate relief work.

The next phase was reconstruction and rehabilitation. For this the State had to submit detailed report on damage caused to roads, houses and crops and its plans for restoring them. If the State's plans conformed to the Central guidelines then the funds would be released automatically.

Growth rate of economy

Mr. Chidambaram claimed that the growth rate of the economy, which was 6.9 per cent last year, rose to 7.5 per cent at the end of the current year and he would happy if it crossed 8 per cent by the end of next year.

Disputing the State Government's contention that the Central Ministers belonging to Tamil Nadu had done nothing for the State, he said improvement of various ports, national highways and communication systems, on-going gauge conversion works and implementation of Sethusamudram project were known to people . The Government was answerable to the people, whose judgment was final. They would give their verdict at an appropriate time.

Earlier, he distributed assistance to self-help groups, students for their studies, and to small traders. He handed over relief to tsunami-affected fishermen under the Rajiv Gandhi Rehabilitation scheme.

DMK MP C. Kuppusami and MLA D. Napoleon said multi-media campaign would help people to know about various Central schemes.

Nationalised banks, LIC, general insurance companies and Income Tax Department put up their stalls at an exhibition, organised in connection with the campaign.