Friday, December 12, 2014

PSU Bankers are paid poorly: SBI Chairman

New Delhi, December 11: Lamenting that bankers are paid very poorly in India, especially at public sector banks, SBI chief Arundhati Bhattacharya today said there is an urgent need to provide better remuneration to attract good talent.

Bankers are paid poorly in India as compared to their counterparts elsewhere in the world, she said.  “Let me start with income of banking professionals in India. Here, 70 per cent of the banks are in public sector and they are paid very very poorly compared to market,” she said at Delhi Economic Conclave here.

The SBI chief said there is urgent need to improve quality of board members by providing them suitable remuneration so that the overall efficiency improves.

“We are very blessed in that. SBI has invariably had very good quality board. But that may not be true across (other banks’) board. One of the reasons is very low remuneration that is given to the board directors,” she said.

“If you are trying to attract best in the field, they have to be remunerated accordingly. We must insist on people who are coming into the board having sufficient hands on experience in both planning and execution in their respective areas,” she said. So, this is something that government can easily implemented and should be done, she added.

The comments come about a week after PSU bank employee unions went to a four-day relay strike to press for early revision of wages.

With regard to governance, she said P J Nayak Committee has very clearly laid out certain roadmap as to how governance can be taken forward.  “I believe the government is looking at it. While they do look at it, I believe there are very some low-hanging fruits and those could be easily implemented within a short period of time,” she added.

Talking about changing regulation in tune with the present system, Bhattacharya said India has over 60 Acts and multiple rules and regulations that govern the financial system at the moment. “Many of the laws are from 1950s and 1960s. The banking regulations themselves they were established before ATMs, credit cards, internet banking, investment advisory, private banking, mutual funds,… whole lot of other things,” she said.

“These acts have been amended from time to time to keep pace with changing reality but the legal foundations have remain more or less static and as the result the framework is very complex and inconsistent,” she said. “Occasionally, it is also open to regulatory arbitrage. So, we need to look at these things also holistically and move the laws to be in tandem with the times,” she added.

With regard to improving governance, Bhattacharya also pitched for a good Whistle Blower policy with the objective to protect innocent and punish guilty.

“In the area of governance, its very important especially in the public sector banks to nurture and have a good Whistle Blower policy to ensure that people who actually give right information are properly rewarded and those who actually misuse the system they are penalised,” she said.

“We must free the public sector from the disgruntled and weapons of anonymous and superfluous complaints that they use. These complaints very often contain allegations that are totally full of lies but a lot of resources get tied up in looking into these things,” she added. Good people who have taken strong decision should not be unnecessary paralysed on account of false allegations, she said.

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