New Delhi: Following strong criticism from opposition leader Rahul Gandhi against BJP-led central government’s privatisation policy, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday assured the protesting bank unions and the opposition that not all banks will be privatise and the interest of such bank workers will be protected by the government.
“Even for those banks which are likely to be privatised, the privatised institutions too will continue to function after privatisation, the interests of the staff will be protected. Interests of workers of banks which are likely to be privatised will absolutely be protected – whether their salaries or scale or pension, all will be taken care of. Even when we talk about privatisation or disinvestment we recognise that each one of the units perfoms for the economy, these units need investment. It is our duty to ensure the workers’ interests are protected and that the institution functions further. I want to assure it is not that the institutions are going to be closed or workers are going to be removed. It is not a quick decision, we are very conscious of the interest of workers in these institutions,” Sitharaman said.
Targeting the previous UPA government she said that Congress regime was the epitome of corruption, which privatised taxpayers’ money besides nationalising corruption.
Sitharaman said that privatising taxpayers’ money is what the UPA did for the betterment of one family. Referring to the bank nationalisation carried out during the tenure of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Finance Minister alleged that the UPA had nationalised loss making.
“We have quite a few banks, but we need banks which will be able to scale up. We need many more banks of the size of SBI, to meet the aspirational needs of the country. We have announced a Public Enterprise Policy, where we have identified 4 areas where public sector presence will be there. In this, financial sector too is there. So, not all banks are going to be privatised.
“In fact, they (UPA) nationalised corruption,” she said.
Sitharaman’s reply came in response to Rahul Gandhi’s Tuesday tweet that accused BJP of selling public sector banks to cronies will compromise the country’s financial security. “Government of India (GOI) is privatising profit and nationalising loss. Selling PSBs to Modi cronies gravely compromises India’s financial security,” Mr Gandhi’s tweet read.
Sitharaman said that as the leader of the main opposition party, Rahul Gandhi should engage in serious discussions rather than throwing two-liners.
Earlier, the Finance Minister had defended the government’s privatisation policy, which also involves privatising two public sector banks. She said that even after privatisation, each entity would perform for the betterment of the economy.
She said the country needs banks that can scale up operations by bringing private capital into the segment. “It has not been a quick decision (to privatise)… the interests of the workers would be protected,” she said.
The Finance Minister’s statement came when over 10 lakh employees of public sector banks are staging a two-day strike starting rom March 15 in opposition of the government’s bank privatisation plan.