Friday, April 28, 2017

At SBI, it is bachelor’s party time

From the bank’s circular it appears that
marriage allowance is only for male staff

Coimbatore, April 27: This is the season for marriages and naturally there is plenty of talk about the costs associated with it.

State Bank of India, the country’s largest bank, is trying to do its bit to help ease the fear of marriage expenses by providing an allowance to its employees.

But there are some caveats. The marriage allowance seems to be only for bachelors and there is a monetary ceiling.

It is not clear from the relevant circular whether the term bachelor includes spinsters too.

But a plain reading gives the impression that it may be gender discriminatory. Perhaps that will be addressed soon with a clarification.

But coming back to the allowance itself, if you are an SBI employee and a bachelor, you will qualify for the allowance as also leave for seven days. The bank has, in its e-circular, stated that this decision to provide marriage allowance follows representations made by both All-India State Bank Officers’ Federation and State Bank of India Staff Association.

But old timers of the bank whom BusinessLine spoke to couldn’t resist taking a dig at such an allowance.

The allowance

According to the circular, all award staff (not officers) will be eligible for a maximum of Rs. 3,000, while those in the Junior Management Grade (Scale I), Middle Management Grade (Scale II and III) and Senior Management Grade (Scale IV and V) can get up to Rs. 5,000. Those in the Top Executive Grade (Scale VI and VII) and TEG (Scale I and II) are eligible for Rs. 7,500 and Rs. 10,000, respectively.

Lest some employees get ideas to misuse the allowance by marrying many times, the circular, with abundant caution, reiterates that the allowance and leave would be available for first-time marriage only and once during the entire career.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Aadhaar-PAN linkage meant to plug tax leaks, says Supreme Court

New Delhi, April 26: Slamming a tendency in the country to evade taxes, the Supreme Court referred to the mandatory linking of Aadhaar to the Permanent Account Number (PAN) and Income Tax returns as an instance of the government’s efforts to bring “new and new laws to stop leakages.”

“When tax evasions are there, the government will try to bring new and new laws to stop leakages. We as citizens are like that... we don’t want to pay taxes, shame on us. This conduct and character is seen for example at the time of matrimonial alliance. Then the groom has the best income. The moment the estranged wife files a maintenance application, the same boy is a pauper,” Justice A.K. Sikri, leading a Bench comprising also of Justice Ashok Bhushan, observed orally on Wednesday.

The court was hearing petitions filed by Ramon Magsaysay award winner Bezwada Wilson, former Kerala Minister Binoy Viswam and ex-Army officer S.G. Vombatkere, represented by senior advocates Arvind Datar, Shyam Divan, Sriram Prakkat and Vishnu Sankar, challenging the constitutionality of Section 139AA inserted in the Income Tax Act by the Finance Act, 2017.

The provision makes Aadhaar mandatory for getting a PAN. Possession of Aadhaar card is necessary for the continuing validity of an existing PAN and for filing returns under the income tax law.

AG cites fake PANs

Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi said there were “five to 10 lakh fake PAN cards generated every year”. “What are you propagating here in the name of public interest, fake PANs,” he asked the petitioners.

To prove that Aadhaar was not foolproof, Mr. Datar responded that 132% of the population of Delhi is shown to have taken Aadhaar cards and 104% all over the country.

Agencies blacklisted

At least 34,000 agencies which dealt with collecting data for Aadhaar were blacklisted.

But the court said these statistics did not necessarily mean that bogus Aadhaars were in circulation. Mr. Rohatgi said the biometric technology used in Aadhaar left no chance for duplication.

Mr. Divan argued that Section 139AA was an instance of how the relationship between the state and citizen was shaping up.

“The state is seeding Aadhaar everywhere, in your bank accounts and in income tax returns. In no time, the state will know what your persuasions and beliefs are without you even having to tell it,” he submitted.

The Bench responded that Section 139AA was a product of the legislative mandate of Parliament.

The Bench observed that Parliament cannot be held accountable for any “solemn undertakings” given by the government to the Supreme Court.

The court had passed orders in September 2013, March 2014, August 2015 and September 2016 on the basis of the government’s assurances that the requirement of Aadhaar for welfare schemes would continue to be voluntary.

“Today we are dealing with a statutory provision [Section 139AA] and not administrative actions of the government for which the undertakings were given. Can you say Parliament should be precluded from performing its duty of making laws because undertakings were given to this court?” Justice Bhushan asked Mr. Datar.

Legality of Sec 139AA

Both Mr. Datar and Mr. Divan had, at the very beginning of the hearing, told the court that their challenge was focused on the legality of Section 139AA and not about the Aadhaar scheme as a violation of the citizen’s right to privacy.

“So, if you are not challenging the privacy aspect of Aadhaar, dispute over Section 139AA boils down to the replacement of one system [PAN] with another [Aadhaar]... It is not for this court to question the wisdom of Parliament and say PAN is better than Aadhaar. We cannot question Parliament’s law unless there is a violation of fundamental rights like Articles 14, 19,” Justice Sikri observed.

Mr. Datar argued that Section 139AA only pertained to individuals and did not extend to companies and firms.

“How will it help their avowed objective to stop black money and make cash transactions transparent, if Section 139AA is limited to just individuals,” Mr. Datar asked. He said this was plain discrimination in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.

“But Mr. Datar, Aadhaar is only meant for individuals and not companies. How can you call this discrimination?” Justice Sikri asked.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

SBI forms Telangana Circle Comprising 1,300 branches in the State

HYDERABAD, April 26: The State Bank of India (SBI) has formed Telangana Circle, comprising 1,300 branches and 2,500 automated teller machines across the 31 districts of the State. The new Circle, which came into existence on Monday, is consequent to the merger of State Bank of Hyderabad and four other associate banks as well as the Bharatiya Mahila Bank with SBI on April 1.

Among them, SBH had the largest network in the State with about 750 branches.  Besides those of erstwhile SBH, the new Circle would have around 400 branches of SBI while the rest belonged to other merged entities. On Tuesday, SBI Chief General Manager Hardayal Prasad inaugurated the new Circle and addressed the staff members at the Local Head Office here on Tuesday.

Hitherto SBI had 14 circles in the country and following the mergers, two more administrative and business units have been formed in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, a press release said. Sources said a separate Circle for Andhra Pradesh, to be called Amaravati Circle, would be formed on getting the statutory approvals.

Addressing the gathering, Mr. Prasad said post the mergers SBI has emerged as the 45th largest bank globally with 22,500 branches, 58,000 ATMs and over 2.77 lakh employees. He stressed on customer satisfaction and effective implementation of digital products, the SBI release said.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

9 steps to become an indispensable employee

They say nobody is indispensable. Yet, companies go to great lengths to retain workers who are seen as critical for their operations. They give huge increments, offer promotions and even stock options as inducements to keep these employees from leaving. Are you also in this hallowed company? This week’s cover story looks at nine attributes that can make you indispensable at work.

Of course, nobody can be truly indispensable. Otherwise companies would start closing down when the star employee retires. After a minor blip, a company will find a way to survive without the star.

1. Develop deep expertise in a task critical for the organisation

The first step to becoming indispensable is also the most obvious. Develop deep expertise in a function or a role. Whether it is fluency in a foreign language that allows you to interact with an overseas client, or knowledge of a computer software used by your company, having a USP can make you indispensable. Of course, this does not mean you monopolise that skill and put up hurdles for others who want to learn that task. But you become so good at it that no one else is entrusted with that function. “Monopolising skills may help in the short term but it is not a long-term solution,” cautions Shiv Agrawal, Managing Director of HR firm ABC Consultants.

The good news is that upskilling has become easier now with the launch of massive open online courses (MOOCs). These online courses are cheap (some are even free) and one can study after work. Taking up a fulltime course may not be feasible for many but these online courses can help you acquire new skills without taking a break from work. The pace of these courses can be customised to suit an individual’s timings.

It’s always good to learn skills related to the core functions of your company. For instance, developing expertise in social media campaigns may not be a very relevant skill for a manufacturing company. On the other hand, specialisation in data analytics might be seen as a critical skill by a financial services company or an e-commerce start-up.

2. Mentor your colleagues and provide support

It might sound paradoxical but one of the surest way to make yourself indispensable is by trying to make yourself redundant. A good mentor imparts knowledge and expertise to the newbie employee and encourages him to improve his skills. But mentoring is not everybody’s cup of tea. Only someone who takes pleasure in watching others succeed can be a good mentor. An insecure person may not want to teach everything to someone who might eventually replace him in the company.

Organisations value employees who mentor and train junior colleagues. Mentoring engenders trust among teams and inspires employees to perform to their highest ability. At a broader level, it helps develop and retain talent. So, if you are helping your teammates and training juniors, you will be seen as someone the company must retain at all costs. The idea is to become valuable by supporting and adding value to other employees. The support can even be in the form of help in everyday functions or stepping in to firefight when a teammate is in a spot.

3. Step out of comfort zone and volunteer to do more

It’s common for people to slip into a clockwork mode over time. They continue to mechanically do the tasks assigned to them, rarely volunteering to do something new or challenging. To become indispensable at work, you need to step out of that comfort zone and start doing stuff you have never done before. As a start, do at least one thing every week that is not part of the duties assigned to you.

It is not difficult to learn how to do one new thing every week. But over time, these baby steps can enhance your skills significantly and add up to a lot. If you learn to do four new things every month, imagine how much more skilled you will be in a year. Your willingness to take up new tasks and challenges will also send a signal to the management that you are willing to go that extra mile to add value to the organisation. “The focus should be on optimizing the value addition to the organisation,” says Moorthy K. Uppaluri, Managing Director & CEO, Randstad India.

4. Offer solutions that are useful for the organisation

Organisations value employees who offer effective solutions to problems. They are seen as people who have the company’s interests in mind. If the company or your division is facing a problem and you have a solution in mind, don’t go to your boss without working out a rational decision making model and a detailed action plan. Here’s a simple roadmap: first identify the cause of the problem. Then think of all the potential solutions. There could be several options, each having its pros and cons. Analyse the feasibility of each solution and then select the best option.

Write down why it makes the most sense and then chart out an implementation plan. Make sure you also mention the other solutions that are not viable. Don’t go into too much detail at this stage. Senior managers are always strapped for time so keep your presentation concise and to the point. It will help you get to the point very quickly.

If your idea is workable, it will cement your indispensability in the organisation.

5. Learn to adapt to the changed situation

Albert Einstein once said that when your stop learning, you start dying. This especially applies to the present day workplace where new technologies and artificial intelligence are fast making humans irrelevant. “The only skill which keeps your relevant at work is the skill to constantly evolve, learn and improve. Everything else can be replicated,” says Rituparna Chakraborty, Co-founder and Senior VP, TeamLease.

Individuals who embrace change and are able to quickly adapt are seen as more valuable than those who cling to outdated principles and concepts that are past their expiry date. Don’t be afraid of change but welcome it. Experiment with new ideas that are meant to improve productivity and performance. In the past decade, we saw how the Internet led to seismic shifts in the way companies functioned. Workers who were not able to adapt to this change were rendered irrelevant. The coming revolution of bots will take away more jobs.

6. Delight your boss by making his work easier

No, this does not mean you suck up to your boss. It only means that you perform tasks that take some load off his back and allow him to focus on other more important duties. This requires a pro-active approach, especially because this work is not part of your assigned duties. Don’t wait for your boss to call for help. Find out the tasks that irk him (and other senior managers), then look for ways to do these tasks. If you do this regularly, your boss will start relying on you more and more. Remember, the more irksome the task, the happier he will be that someone else is doing it. Once he gets used to it, he will ensure that you are retained by the company at all costs.

The willingness to take on more has a downside. You will be expected to do more work. But that is the price one has to pay to become indispensable.

7. Demonstrate integrity at work

Personal integrity is a fundamental attribute that companies seek in employees. A person who demonstrates high moral values is considered more valuable than someone who is not so particular about ethics. An honest person’s actions make him trustworthy and dependable. You won’t find him indulging in petty office politics or bad-mouthing his colleagues.

How can you display integrity at the workplace? The golden rule is to treat others the way you want to be treated. This ensures that one gives due respect to colleagues and customers. Honesty also encourages healthy relationships within an organisation. Teams work better if their boss is honest about the objective and outcome of the project.

Of course, honesty does not extend to compromising the confidentiality of certain information. A person of integrity will maintain confidentiality if required. Such a person is more likely to be given a position of responsibility.

8. Be consistently reliable in everything you do

Everybody likes surprises, but not if they are unpleasant. Missing a project deadline, arriving late for a meeting or going on leave without prior notice are some of the unpleasant surprises that managers love to hate. For them, reliability equals efficiency. If an employee shows up on time, finishes his work before the deadline and maintains basic office discipline, he is seen as more valuable than someone who is forever making excuses for laxity and delays. Reliability is more than just time management— it reflects the mindset of the individual and even shapes his career path. If a manager knows that he can depend on an employee to submit the project report before the deadline or reach office at time, he will assign more responsibilities to such a worker.

Be consistently reliable in everything you do. Also, make sure you don’t make false promises. Before you make a commitment, be sure that you will be able to keep it. Instead of promising too much and delivering too little, it is better to scale down the promise and then delight the boss by doing more than you committed. This way you send out the message that you don’t want to make false promises but are willing to go that extra mile to deliver.

9. Build ties within the organisation and outside

It is important to build good relationships, not only within your team and with the people you report to, but also with others in the organisation. It helps to be well connected with senior people in the organisation. “No person or role is an island. Interpersonal skills and the ability to network are as important as the basic knowledge required for the job,” says Moorthy of Ranstad India.

A positive attitude goes a long way in improving the interpersonal relationship of an individual. Try and smile as much as you can and control the urge to say things you might regret later. This is especially important during a stressful time. “The most important skill to develop is the ability to get along with all kinds of people irrespective of whether you like them or not,” says Chakraborty of TeamLease. Chakraborty points out that workplace dynamics are changing. “It becomes imperative for professionals to get work done through people who do not directly report to you,” she adds.

Relationship with clients are also be critical. In some situations, an individual’s relations with a client can make him indispensable.

A company may not want to let go of someone if it knows that his exit might take away a lot of business. Invest in your relationships with clients to improve your standing within the company.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Pension revision for 5th, 6th and 7th bipartite retirees

Kolkata, April 20: The Finance Ministry has approved the committee recommendations (Delhi High Court Case– W.P. (C) 1875/2013) in respect of pension revision for 5th, 6th and 7th bipartite retirees of State Bank of India.

The formal communication in this regard was sent to the Bank for implementation. The revised pension amount shall be paid with effect from the date of retirement of the individual pensioners.

The 5th, 6th and 7th bipartite were effective since 1987, 1992 and 1997 respectively. The Officials who retired during the period of November-1987 to October 2002 will be benefited due to this revision.

The official who retired in 1987 is now 90 years old!  At last… ‘Justice’ was delivered to him.  So, never give-up your hope.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

After Air India row, Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad hits out at SBI Official over defunct ATM machines

Mumbai, April 19: Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad lost his cool again, only this time, a State Bank of India Official in Latur, Maharashtra was at the receiving end. According to India Today, Gaikwad lashed out at the bank for playing foul and protecting the interests of a few customers.

A video that's doing the rounds shows the bank manager trying to explain to Gaikwad why the ATM was not dispensing cash, but Gaikwad was not in a mood to listen.

Some of the customers, however, were happy with the Shiv Sena MP's intervention which led to the functioning of the ATM machines.

Gaikwad had gloated on 23 March to the media that he repeatedly assaulted Air India duty manager R Sukumar, 60, with his slipper over a row over the lack of business class seats on a Pune-Delhi flight. The incident led to Air India and all private airlines banning Gaikwad. The ban has since been lifted.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

5-day week for PSU bank staff

Mumbai, April 15:  India's public sector banks are examining a proposal to a migrate to "five-day a week" work schedule, a move that will likely cheer thousands of employees as state-owned banks hammer out strategies to match private peers' human resource practices.

The move, however, may come bundled with conditions attached with postings in remote areas amid mounting government pressure to widen "financial inclusion" in areas that still remain outside the banking net.

"There is a proposal to move to a five day work schedule," a senior executive at a Mumbai based government bank told Hindustan Times. "It would take some time for us to work out a strategy by which we can ensure that core operations do not come to a halt," he said.

A government official, who did not wish to be identified, said improving human resource practices in sync with private banks were necessary to keep the flock motivated, as there is a large gap in salaries and perks. "While they want to gain a more professional image, they want to be in sync with their private sector peers especially as there is a mismatch in the remunerations," the official said.

A report on HR practices of public sector banks prepared by a committee headed by Anil Khandelwal, former Bank of Baroda chairman said that there was an acute crunch of talent in state owned banks and there was reluctance in joining a government bank as they failed to provide concrete career growth prospects. At present, there are about 8,00,000 employees in public sector banks.

Monday, April 17, 2017

BHIM UPI: NPCI says it won’t be responsible for loss or fraud, user fully takes the risk

Mumbai, April 14:  National Payments Corp of India (NPCI), which is set up as a Section 25 company under the Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of Companies Act 2013), and is seen promoting its Unified Payments Interface (UPI)- based Bharat Interface for Money application (BHIM) app, says it should not held responsible for any loss, claim or damage suffered by the user. What is more shocking are the terms and conditions (T&C) for the UPI BHIM app from NPCI, which are one sided and affords no protection whatsoever to the end user or consumer.

In its terms and conditions for use of the BHIM UPI app, the company, promoted by 10 banks, says, "NPCI does not hold out any warranty and makes no representation about the quality of the UPI services or BHIM application. The user agrees and acknowledges that NPCI shall not be liable and shall in no way be held responsible for any damages whatsoever whether such damages are direct, indirect, incidental or consequential and irrespective of whether any claim is based on loss of revenue, interruption of business, transaction carried out by the user, information provided or disclosed by issuer bank regarding user’s account(s) or any loss of any character or nature whatsoever and whether sustained by the User or by any other person. While NPCI shall endeavour to promptly execute and process the transactions as instructed to be made by the user, NPCI shall not be responsible for any interruptions, non-response or delay in responding due to any reason whatsoever, including due to failure of operational systems or any requirement of law."

The T&C of NPCI are not easily available and one needs to search for it. But whatever is stated in the T&C documents, appears completely one-sided. Take for example point 6.2 in the T&C documents, which emphasises that only the user is responsible for any failed transaction or any loss and neither NPCI nor the bank can be held responsible. It says, "NPCI shall not be liable for any loss, claim or damage suffered by the User and/or any other third party arising out of or resulting from failure of any transaction initiated via BHIM App on account of time out transaction i.e. where no response is received from NPCI or the beneficiary bank to the transaction request. NPCI or the beneficiary Bank shall also not be liable for any loss, damage and/or claim arising out of or resulting from wrong beneficiary details, mobile number and/or account details being provided by the User."

This means, even if NPCI or the bank fails to send the necessary response, it is the user who is liable for the loss. Therefore, NPCI, the developer and promoter of this UPI BHIM app, and banks on its platform, are under no obligation to send responses to these transactions within time. "NPCI shall not be responsible for any electronic or mechanical defect, data failure or corruption, viruses and bugs or related problems that may be attributable to User telecommunication equipment and/ or the Services provided by any Service Provider," NPCI says.

Remember the Bank of Maharashtra case, where fraudsters siphoned off Rs25 crore from the lender, using a bug in its UPI app? For such kind of misuse, too, NPCI says the payer is responsible. It states, "The Payer is solely responsible for the accuracy and authenticity of the payment instructions issued via BHIM App. Once a payment instruction is issued, the same cannot be subsequently revoked by the Payer. NPCI accepts no liability for any consequences arising from erroneous information provided by Payer in payment instructions."

Now, let us see what happened in the Bank of Maharashtra case. P Hota, Managing Director and Chief Executive of NPCI, told the Economic Times that the Pune-based bank had procured an UPI solution from a vendor (reported to be city-based InfrasoftTech), which had a bug that resulted in the fund moving out of the accounts without the sender's account having the necessary funds.

As per the procedure, when the UPI app receives such a request, it sends a query to the other party (customer) and, after obtaining acceptance, it checks fund availability in the UPI-linked bank account. However, the UPI app used by Bank of Maharashtra sent two messages to NPCI, one as 'success' and other as 'error:insufficient funds'. In these fraudulent transactions, NPCI only read the first message and cleared the payment. 

This is an interesting situation because the money was taken from accounts which did not have necessary funds. So, who will bear the loss? As per NPCI's T&C, it cannot be the company or the bank, but the user. However, in this case, the user was not even aware about this fund transfer. In addition, NPCI is not under any obligation to keep a record of instructions, making the job of the investigation agencies difficult.

In its T&C documents, NPCI states that it has no liability or obligation to keep a record of the instructions to provide information to the user or for verifying the instructions. "All instructions, requests, directives, orders, directions, carried out by the User via BHIM App, are based upon the User’s decisions and are the sole responsibility of the User," it says. After making claims that over one crore users have downloaded the BHIM app from Google Play Store, the government is now trying to boost its actual use. The government has come out with a customer referral scheme, which promises to pay Rs10 per reference to the referrer and Rs25 for the new user for downloading and transacting from BHIM app. But this will happen only on completion of three unique transactions of Rs50 in total to any three unique customers or merchants.

Finance ministry okays 8.65% interest on Provident Fund

Employees will get 8.65% interest on provident fund balance for 2016-17. For last year 2015-16 the interest rate was 8.80%

New Delhi, April 16 (PTI): The finance ministry is believed to have permitted the labour ministry to go ahead with 8.65% rate of interest on employees’ provident fund for 2016-17, which will benefit over four crore Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) members. The finance ministry in its communication to the labour ministry has, however, put a rider that the interest rate should not result in a deficit for the retirement fund. This will enable the labour ministry to provide 8.65% rate as decided by EPFO trustees.

“The finance ministry had earlier suggested an EPF rate slightly lower than approved by the trustees as it wanted the interest to be aligned with the rates of small savings”.  The finance ministry has been asking the labour ministry to rationalise the EPF interest rate in view of lowering of returns on various administered saving schemes like PPF. The government generally ratifies the rate of return approved by the CBT because the EPFO is an autonomous body and provides interest on EPF deposits from its own income.

Moderator’s remark: In the wake of the decision as above, the interest rate in PF of the Bank Employees is now expected to be reduced from 8.80% to 8.65% for FY 2016-17. Bank employees will now loose interest of Rs 1,500 each year for every ten lakh in their PF accounts. Bad news indeed.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

At SBI, You Don't Need To Maintain Minimum Balance In These Accounts

State Bank of India is offering corporate salary accounts
without the requirement to maintain minimum monthly balance.

New Delhi, April 12: State Bank of India or SBI has said it is exempting its customers holding certain account types from maintenance of average monthly balance. Such accounts include small savings bank accounts, basic savings bank accounts and Jan Dhan accounts, or the accounts opened under the government's financial inclusion scheme Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana or PMJDY. This was said in a tweet by SBI, which recently adopted a new brand identity after merger with five associate banks and Bharatiya Mahila Bank. SBI had earlier decided to increase the minimum balance required for maintaining savings accounts from April 1, hitting 31 crore depositors including pensioners and students.

Besides, State Bank of India is also offering corporate salary accounts without the requirement to maintain minimum monthly balance.

The monthly average balance (MAB) requirement was increased to as high as Rs. 5,000 for branches in six metros. In case of non-compliance, savings bank account holders will invite a penalty ranging from Rs. 20 (in rural branches) to Rs. 100 (in metro cities), as per the bank's website. (Read more)

Here are some of the other features SBI offers under these accounts, according to its website.

Small savings bank account

SBI's small savings bank account has a maximum balance limit of Rs. 50,000 and offers a rate of interest applicable to savings bank accounts. Account holders get an ATM-cum-Debit card, issued free of cost and without any annual maintenance charge, as per the SBI website. All credits in a financial year should not aggregate to more than Rs. 1 lakh and Rs. 10,000 in case of withdrawals and transfers.

Basic savings account

SBI's basic savings account has no minimum balance or maximum balance limits. Holders of this account type "will not be eligible to open any other Savings Bank Account" at the bank. Such an account - in case the customer already holds one - will have to be closed within 30 days of opening the basic savings bank deposit account.

Corporate salary package

SBI's salary account under corporate salary package offers many benefits to the employer and the employee alike. This account type reduces employer's paperwork and salary administration cost. Employees get free internet banking and mobile banking services, among other features, as per the SBI website.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

RBI still calculating currency that returned post-note ban: Arun Jaitley

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is still calculating and taking stock of the currency that was returned to banks post demonetisation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday.

New Delhi, April 11 (IANS): The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is still calculating and taking stock of the currency that was returned to banks post demonetisation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday. In response to a question by Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal in the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley said that the RBI was taking stock of the currency that returned to the banks and would come out with an "exact figure" in due course.

The Finance Minister did not specify a time-frame for the same.  "The money that was being returned to banks (during the window given by government) went to currency chests and then came to RBI. It periodically gave some figures of the money that was coming in," Jaitley said. "Now the RBI is calculating the exact amount, and would come out with the exact figure," he added.

The Narendra Modi government, which scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes on November 8 last year, has faced repeated queries from the opposition on the amount of currency that returned to the banks after the note ban. The government had said the move was to scrap the fake currency in circulation and curb black money.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

NEFTs get faster because banks will process them every 30 minutes now

RBI has reduced the settlement time for
clearance of NEFT from 1 hour to 30 minutes

Mumbai, April 10: On 6 April, the Reserve Bank of India in its monetary policy announcement said that it has decided to reduce the settlement time for clearance of National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT), from 1 hour to 30 minutes. Here is what it means for you:

NEFT is one of the electronic payment systems in the country. It allows you to send money from one bank to another. You can send the money only during a certain hours. The fund transfer happens in batches. So far, NEFT payment settlement happened in hourly batches. Now this has been changed to every half an hour. Hence, in a weekday (Monday to Friday) the batch between 8 am to 7 pm will have 23 batches. So far there were only 12 batches.

On Saturdays, NEFT settlements happen between 8 am and 1 pm. Now, instead of six batches, it will be settled in 11. There is no NEFT on Sundays.

The cost of sending money using NEFT depends on the bank that you are transacting with. However, the RBI has issued guidelines on the costs too. For receiving money over NEFT, you don’t have to pay any charges. For sending, you will be charged a fee.

For an amount up to Rs10,000, the banks can’t charge you more than Rs2.50, excluding service tax. If you send between Rs10,001 and Rs1 lakh, you will be charged Rs 5 plus service tax, and for transactions between Rs1 lakh and Rs2 lakh, charges would be Rs15 plus service tax. For transactions above Rs2 lakh, the charge would be Rs25 plus service tax.

Banks are also supposed to pay 25 paise per transaction to the clearing house as well as destination bank, as service charge. However, it cannot be passed on to the customers.

To send money using NEFT, you need to have an account with a bank that allows you to do fund transfer using NEFT. You need to have your beneficiary’s bank account details such as account number, name of the receiver, and IFSC code. Once you add the beneficiary, you will have to wait for half an hour for the beneficiary to get registered. Once registered, you can start sending the money.

According to RBI, In case of non-credit or delay in credit to the beneficiary account, you can contact the NEFT customer facilitation centre of your bank; details of which is available on bank websites.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Banks get time till June 30 to obtain PAN from account holders

New Delhi, April 7 (PTI): The Tax Department has given banks three more months till June 30 to obtain permanent account number (PAN) or Form—60 from all account holders as it looks to tighten the noose around evaders.

Though the deadline for getting the PAN or Form 60 (if PAN is not available) by banks ended on February 28, the tax department on April 5 notified the extension of the time till June 30.

In the notification, the Income Tax Department said that in Income—Tax Rules 114B, in the fourth proviso, “for the figures, letters and words ‘28th day of February’ the figures, letters and words ‘30th day of June’ shall be substituted.”

Rule 114B lists various transactions for which quoting PAN is mandatory. The tax department had in January asked banks, post offices and cooperative banks to document PAN or declaration of Form 60 received from account holders and maintain all records for transactions under Rule 114B of I—T Act.

It had said that persons who have not quoted PAN, or did not furnish Form 60 at the time of opening account, will have to provide the same by February 28. Form 60 is a declaration form filed by an individual without PAN.

Following the demonetisation move effective November 9, the tax department had asked banks and post offices to report to it all deposits above Rs 2.5 lakh in savings accounts and more than Rs 12.50 lakh in current accounts made between November 10 and December 30, 2016.

Also, cash deposits exceeding Rs 50,000 in a single day had to be reported. With an estimated Rs 15 lakh crore in junked currency notes coming back into the banking system post demonetisation, the tax department has started analysing the bank deposit trends.

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Govt asks public sector banks to finalise next wage revision before 1 November

In a communication to CEOs and MDs of the state-owned banks, the finance ministry advised them to initiate the steps for smooth conclusion of next wage revision

New Delhi, April 9 (PTI): The finance ministry has asked the heads of public sector banks (PSBs) to finalise the modalities for timely implementation of the next pay revision from November.

There are 21 public sector banks, post merger of six lenders with State Bank of India (SBI), in the country. They together employ about 8 lakh people.

In a communication to CEOs and MDs of the state-owned banks, the ministry advised them to initiate the steps for smooth conclusion of next wage revision of the employee within the time-frame. “However, it is seen that several banks are yet to proceed in the matter,” it said, requesting the PSBs to “look into the matter and conclude the next wage revision prior to the effective date of 1 November 2017”.

The wage revision of public sector bank employees takes place every five year. The last revision was effected in November 2012. In the last wage negotiation between PSU banks employee unions and bank management, Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) had settled at 15% hike. Recently, Banks Board Bureau chief Vinod Rai had made a case that the compensation package across the board of public sector banks needs to be improved.

“Maybe, we are not able to do much with the fixed part of compensation package but (with) variable part we are hopeful that in the next financial year (2017-18), we will be able to introduce a far more attractive package which do have bonuses, ESOPs and other performance linked incentives as part of the package,” he had said. Rai has also suggested that managing directors of the public sector banks should be appointed for minimum 6 years.