Mamata writes to Modi, opposes merger of banks

Kolkata: Urging the Centre not to ‘deprive’ her state, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi opposing the decision to merge two Kolkata headquartered public sector banks with those with head offices in Delhi and Chennai, respectively, without consulting her government.

Banerjee called for a rethink of the “sudden move of mergers of PSU banks in a hasty manner, resulting in insurmountable difficulties to the people at large”.

Banerjee urged the prime minister not to merge the United Bank of India with the Delhi headquartered Punjab National Bank and the Allahabad Bank with the Chennai headquartered Indian Bank.

“I’m deeply concerned to learn that two public sector banks headquartered in Kolkata are being merged with banks headquartered in Delhi and Chennai, respectively, without any consultation with the state government or with the management of these two banks,” she said.

“The unilateral decision of merger of banks and threat of shifting headquarters from West Bengal will adversely affect the developmental momentum of the state,” she said and added, “Kindly don’t deprive Bengal like this”.

The central government on August 30 announced merger of 10 PSU banks into four, following which the number of state-run banks will come down from 27 to 12, to ensure better management of capital and making a “stronger banks”

As per the announcement, Punjab National Bank, the Oriental Bank of Commerce and the United Bank would merge to become the second-largest PSB. Also, the Indian Bank and the Allahabad Bank are set to be amalgamated into one.

According to Finance Secretary Rajiv Kumar, the effective date of amalgamation will be decided on the decision of the individual banks, and in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India.

Consolidation among PSBs has been on the agenda of the NDA government since 2014. In 2017, the State Bank of India was merged with five of its associate banks and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank. In 2018, the government decided to merge the Bank of Baroda with the Vijaya Bank and the Dena Bank.