Financial Services Secretary Debasish Panda has written to the chief secretaries of states asking them to vaccinate bank and insurance staff, business correspondents, and other financial services providers on priority, and provide them safety following reports of manhandling of bank employees by state law enforcement authorities.
Bankers have been playing a critical role in providing banking services during such difficult times, and many have contracted the virus with some even losing their lives, Panda wrote in a letter dated today.
Last month, the finance ministry had requested the home ministry to facilitate vaccinations for the entire 1.35 million staff in the banking sector irrespective of age, and also employees of National Payments Corporation of India, following requests from bankers. Late last month, the Department of Financial Services (DFS) had asked state governments to vaccinate bankers ‘on priority’ when the third phase of vaccination begins from May 1.
Reemphasising the point for vaccinating bank staff on priority, Panda also wrote that about manhandling of bank employees by state law enforcement authorities that is demoralising them to continue their work and disrupting banking services.
“While bank employees are already braving risks to their health and need to be assured about their safety, these incidents result in the exact opposite and end up demoralising them and their families, which leads to disruption in services,” he wrote. This becomes an impediment to account holders’ access to deposits at hours of need, direct benefit transfer payments, and credit to businesses, he wrote. Such incidents are taking place even when the Ministry of Home Affairs order categorises banking as an essential service.
As bank staff have to commute to keep branches and offices open, the local staff must cooperate with them, and provide them adequate safety and security, the letter said.