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COVID impact: IBA asks SLBCs to take decision on functioning of banks based on local situation

In order to ensure safety of bankers, Indian Banks‘ Association (IBA) has asked State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) convener to modify the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as per the prevailing COVID-19 situation and needs in respective states. The decision to this effect was taken in a special Managing Committee meeting organised on April 21, 2021.

“We are also suggesting SLBC convenors to separately call meetings of all stakeholders including Chief Medical Officers and senior level government officials and deliberate on emerging situations in their respective states and issue advisories to the banks,” IBA CEO Sunil Mehta said in a letter addressed to heads of banks.

It is felt that localised advisories will be more practical and useful for the entire system, it said.

“While banking is an integral part of the economy and the services are needed to be continued to ensure smooth economic activities, there is a need to suggest steps to restrict services to ensure safety of banking staff as well as our customers who visit branches for their banking needs. This will also help in reducing pressure on the medical infrastructure,” it said.

There are a growing number of cases in every bank and bankers are finding it difficult to get a bed and oxygen supply like any other citizens of the country, UFBU has said.

The United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), an umbrella body of nine unions, in a representation had asked IBA for restriction in services and reduction in public dealing time to around 3 hours per day till the situation improves to protect bank employees from the coronavirus infection.

“We are deeply distressed to constantly receive news about infections, hospitalizations and deaths of bank employees round the clock every day,” the UFBU had said.

Last month, the IBA had written a letter addressed to Secretary Health and Family Welfare for inclusion of bank employees for vaccination on priority basis given their important role in running the economy.

The association had requested the ministry for free vaccination on priority basis.

With the new variant of mutant virus, the risk has increased manifold for those who are not vaccinated, the IBA had said.

Quoting observation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, IBA said the committee appreciated the efforts and pain taken by the banking sector for providing uninterrupted and seamless banking facility during the COVID-19 outbreak.

While recognising good work done by the banking sector, the committee emphasised that they be declared COVID-19 warriors, IBA letter to Health Secretary said.

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