Centre has gone back on assurance over proposed bank merger: Forum

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 13 (IANS) All the key assurances given by the Central government on the proposed merger of Kerala’s own bank – the State Bank of Travancore (SBT) with State Bank of India (SBI) has been breached, said the Save SBT Forum on Tuesday.

The Forum comprises of all top political leaders in the state led by senior Communist Party of India leader and former Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha MP Panniyan Ravindran.

Addressing reporters here, he said that it was earlier assured that there would be no closing down of SBT branches nor would the employees be affected.

“But now it has come out that 204 out of the 850 branches of SBT in the state would be closed down and a VRS scheme for its employees is all set to be announced. This comes at a time when not a single branch of the SBI is going to be closed down nor are their employees being affected.

“This is gross injustice to Kerala as SBT accounts for 25 per cent of loans given by all banks in the state. The ploy is to use the deposits of SBT to be given as loans to big industrialists outside Kerala. We will fight it legally and also launch protests against this move,” said Ravindran.

SBT, which has since its inception 70 years back has always been identified as Kerala’s own bank, has as about 14,000 employees on its roll.

SBT Employees Union General Secretary K.S. Krishna said that the three-day meeting of the SBT director board held last week has identified the 204 branches in Kerala that will be closed down and they are expecting the VRS scheme to be announced anytime now.

Ever since the decision came of the proposed merger with SBI, the SBT’s majority union -the SBT Employees Union has been opposing it tooth and nail as they claim the new entity will become a global player in banking and the customers of SBT will suffer.

SBI currently has 79.09 shareholding in SBT while the Kerala government’s stake is 0.89 per cent.

At the end of the previous fiscal the total business of SBT stood at Rs 1,68,123 crores which comprises total deposits of Rs 1,01,119 crores and advances of Rs 67,004 crores.

In July this year the Kerala Assembly had passed a resolution that was supported by all but one BJP legislator against the proposed merger.

–IANS

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