FM asks private banks to redress customer complaints

New Delhi:  Worried over a large number of customer complaints, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday asked private sector and foreign banks to redress the grievances "vigorously" and said financial inclusion and consumer trust are interlinked.

"It is heartening to note that, as per the latest Annual Report of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme, the total number of customer complaints received by the Ombudsman in 2010-11 are 11 per cent less than those received in the previous year," Mukherjee said.

"However, the private sector and foreign banks which account for only 12 per cent of the loan and deposits, contribute for 35 per cent of the total complaints. This requires vigorous efforts to redress complaints," he said at a function here to mark the opening of 100 branches of Kerala- based Federal Bank simultaneously all over the country.

During 2010-11, 71,274 complaints were received under Banking Ombudsman Scheme against 79,266 in the previous fiscal.

As per the report, 6,895 complaints were against ICICI Bank and 5,590 against HDFC Bank. There were 2,144 complaints against Standard Chartered Bank, 1,865 against HSBC, 629 against Barclays Bank and 967 against Citibank N.A.

Mukherjee further said, effective and efficient banking system is the backbone of a growing economy.

"As we move ahead on the path of development, a major challenge is to strike a balance between the twin objectives of increasing banking access and improving the quality of customer service and customer protection," he said.

Financial inclusion and consumer trust and protection are interlinked, he added.