FM Sitharaman asks banks to gear up for festival surge


MUMBAI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has asked banks to proactively reach out to customers for loans as a demand surge is expected during the festival season.
“During and immediately after the festival, there will be a lot of interest. People are willing to spend money. Businesses are willing to invest in additional capacity to expand. If these plans have to materialise, it is through you,” said Sitharaman addressing bankers at the 75th annual general meeting of the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA). Earlier in the day, the FM said that the Centre was taking steps to ensure timely payments to MSMEs from government, public sector enterprises and even private companies. The private companies have been asked to settle MSME dues in 45 days. She was speaking at an event organized by Laghu Udyog Bharti, an association of small businesses.

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Sitharaman told bankers that the government has addressed their concerns whenthey were worried about being pulled up by the CBI on Central Vigilance Commission for lending decisions. “Those days are gone, and you are on a better platform now. If you could communicate that to the authorities and the government, you can be equally effective in communicating to customers that you are ready for business,” she said.
The finance minister said that she had pushed banks to raise capital from markets and refuse to invest government funds as she wanted the banks to raise capital themselves and not see the government as a ‘mai-baap’(benefactor). Sitharaman asked banks to devise products for the youth. “They (the youth) will be about 60% of the country’s population by 2030. But are you making yourself accessible to the country’s youth,” she said.
FM also made a push for ‘open banking’, asking banks to ensure that their systems talk to each other so that customer of one lender can deal with another. She said that the account aggregator platform would enable bank systems to talk to one another. She also addressed an event at BSE where she asked women entrepreneurs to take up leadership roles.





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