While addressing the media after announcing Cabinet decisions, the Union minister said: “I want to assure it is not that the institutions are going to be closed or workers are going to be removed. Whether it is the salaries or scale or pension of employees, all will be taken care of.”
Stressing that not all banks will be privatised, the finance minister said: “We have announced a Public Enterprise Policy and identified 4 areas where public sector presence will be there. Financial sector too is included in this. But, not all banks are going to be privatised.”
Sitharaman’s statement comes at a time when bank unions have called for a two-day nationwide strike to protest against the privatisation of two public sector banks.
State-run banks across states have been on strike since Monday, leading to disruption in services as over 10 lakh employees have joined the protests.
Further, stressing on the operations of banks Sitharaman said that there are quite a few banks in the economy but we need banks which will be able to scale up.
Recollecting the move where the government had merged 10 PSU banks into 4 major entities last year, she said: “We need more banks of the size of the State Bank of India (SBI) to meet the aspirational needs of the country.”
She emphasised that even those banks which are likely to be privatised, the institutions too will continue to function after privatisation.
The minister also took a jibe at senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s tweet earlier in the day where he had accused the government of “privatising profit” and “nationalising loss”.
GOI is privatising profit & nationalising loss.Selling PSBs to Modicronies gravely compromises India’s financial… https://t.co/0jOvvj1PXc
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) 1615867358000
She said: “I would want him to engage in serious discussions, rather than throw these kinds of two liners every now and then.”
The minister further took on the former Congress President saying the UPA government also nationalised corruption.
“His daadi (Indira Gandhi) would have probably nationalised the banks, but nationalising of loss in the banks was during UPA time. And I would want to add one more — nationalising corruption is what they did.
“So nationalising corruption and privatising taxpayers’ money for the betterment of one family is all that Rahul Gandhi will have to take as a reply for that tweet…,” she said.
The senior BJP leader then advised Gandhi that he should do some more intense homework before speaking.
(With inputs from agencies)