PSBs brainstorm to boost bank credit, hit $5 trillion economy target


In an unusual bottom-up consultation drive, Public Sector Banks (PSBs), last week sent their senior bank staff on the road to brainstorm and discover ideas to boost bank credit and also double India’s economy to $5 trillion in the next five years.

According to officials, branch managers are the first point of contact and hence new ideas and suggestions from them may actually correct the slack in credit demand. 

The nation-wide exercise held between August 17 and 18, is believed to have prompted over 1.5 lakh branch managers of various state-run banks including the State Bank of India (SBI), the Punjab National Bank (PNB), the Bank of Baroda (BoB) and others working overtime on a holiday to gather ideas about how the banking industry can be a catalyst for growth.

The two-day meeting titled ‘Taking reforms to branch level: Consultation and Ideation’ was held on the behest of the Department of Financial Services (DFS), the Ministry of Finance. “As a result of the initiative, a number of implementable and innovative suggestions have been arrived on how PSBs in general and our bank in particular, may improve their performance,” the BoB said. 

The meeting was also attended by DFS Additional Secretary Debashish Panda. The consultations for generation of ideas was conducted in a bottoms-up process, which will be further discussed at the state-level and final meetings will be held at the national level to compare intra and inter-bank performances for way ahead implementation across banks, BoB explained.

According to the country’s largest lender SBI, which conducted the consultations including all of its 524 regional branches, also reviewed the bank’s performance. Its chief Rajnish Kumar himself was in Kolkata, trying to assess the needs of the local community and how his colleagues intend to cater to them. 
“The consultative process has resulted in a renewed sense of involvement and purposes down to the branch level and the bank is geared towards implementing the roadmap…, improve its performance and align itself to national priorities so that it may fulfill its mandate of partnering the Indian growth story,” the SBI later said in a statement. 

Similarly, the Indian Bank said the discussions ranged from area specific issues affecting the growth of business of branches, opportunities and growth potential available, requirements of customers, and improving digitalisation.“Detailed discussions were held on bank lending to MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) sector including lending under Stand Up India, Mudra loans, PSB loans. Other areas like retail lending, digital transaction for both convenience and outreach were touched upon,” it explained.

Meanwhile, PNB too concluded the two-day exercise searching for ways and means of increasing credit to various sectors, enhance use of technology to bring about innovation and enable big data analytics and make banking citizen-centric as well as more responsive to the needs of farmers, small industrialists, entrepreneurs, youth, students and women. 

Sunil Mehta, MD, PNB emphasised the need to encourage aspirational bankers to use innovative methods and out of the box thinking for better and improved banking. 

While the Corporation Bank said the consultative process led to a renewed sense of involvement at the grass-root level with the national priorities and that the bank was geared up to implement suggestions and ideas, which have emerged out of the entire process of consultations, so that it may fulfill its mandate of prosperity, Delhi-based lender Punjab & Sind Bank said deliberations were with the focus to align itself with national priorities and partnering with the Indian growth story. 

The Bank of India (BoI) said its branches were engaged in self-assessment, deliberated on the issues and evolved ideas on future strategy. The idea was to make banking citizen-centric as well as more responsive to the needs and aspiration of senior citizens, farmers, small industrialists, entrepreneurs, youth, students and women, it futher said.

BoI, executive director, AK Das said, “Several topical themes were discussed during the meet with a view to chart out specific roadmap for PSU (public sector undertaking) banks.” 
Other aspects of banking like retail lending, digital transactions were also discussed.