Retail investors will get to own more of public sector banks, says Nirmala Sitharaman

 

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is all for greater public participation in the banking sector. The government will have to work out the modalities for that, she said while sharing her plans for the sector.

“I would, probably in the later part of next year, focus on some more retail participation in ownership of the banks,” she told in an exclusive interview.

“We had earlier approved consolidation of 10 banks into four. In the last few years, the Centre has infused about ₹3,50,000 crore by way of capital into public sector banks for regulatory and growth purposes. Governance reforms would be carried out in these banks, so that they become more competitive. A few among them will be encouraged to approach the capital market to raise additional capital,” she added.

Appreciating the dedicated work during the Covid period by bank employees, she said she has asked SBI to talk to the Indian Banks Association to sort out issues related to bank employees, their pension, family pension and pension for those who retired some time ago, whose pension is not commensurate with the pension of equal rank.

“I want bank employees to be given their due. A lot of pensioners are waiting for very long time. Yesterday, I had meeting with Rajkiran Rao of IBA. I spoke to him, too. We need bank employees to be attended to, particularly their families and the pension of retired employees,” she said.

Optimism about revival

Talking about the economy, Sitharaman expressed optimism about revival. “The pent-up demand has been probably adequately met even between September and early October. The ramping up of capacities of the industries, which is being heard now from various segments, is very clearly indicative of their assessment to sustain the demand. So, I think even after the festival season, we will be back to a good demand-driven supply, and an impetus to the economy, as a result. I can say it will be a sustained revival,” she said.

No retro tax

On challenging the tribunal’s award in the Vodafone case, she said a decision is yet to be taken on it, but the government’s intention is clear on retrospective taxation. “I am clear that we won’t apply taxation retrospectively. Whether I will be changing or amending the law, winding down the amendment which was done in 2012, I will have to take a call on that because whether I retract from that amendment or I live with it... I will have to decide what I will do in due course,” she said.

Farm laws

Talking about the farm laws and the move by the Congress-ruled States in legislating new laws, she said they also have to very clearly understand the Centre’s laws have not encroached into the States’ area.

“What we have done is clearly what is well within the Centre's list of business as per the Constitution... What is in the Centre's list is what we are dealing with and we are explaining it as to how this is going to help farmers.

 

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