Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday that all bank branches and ATMs will remain open. Her remarks came as the country entered the sixth day of a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. “Banking correspondents are active. Social distancing is respected and (hand) sanitizers are provided where necessary,” the Finance Minister said on Twitter, seeking to allay concerns that the ongoing lockdown may hamper banking operations such as cash withdrawals. “All banks are ensuring that their branches are kept open, ATMs filled up & are working. Banking correspondents are active,” Ms Sitharaman said.
All banks are ensuring that their branches are kept open, ATMs filled up & are working. Banking correspondents are active. Social distancing is respected & sanitizers are provided where necessary. Just in case, any assistance/clarification is required contact @DFSFightsCorona
— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) March 30, 2020
This is the second time in the recent past that the Finance Minister has stepped forward to allay fears that banks may shut branches in order to protect their employees from the fast-spreading Covid-19 disease. On Thursday, Ms Sitharaman had denied reports that major banks in the country were shutting down most branches to protect their staff from the coronavirus pandemic.
In a communication to the public, the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) said on Friday that its member banks will continue to offer essential banking services in their respective branches. The services available physically at branches would include cash deposits and withdrawals, cheque clearances, remittances and government transactions. (Read IBA’s Full Statement)
The Association appealed to the public to visit the branch premises “only in case of absolute necessity”, and make use of online and mobile banking channels for non-essential services. The IBA is a representative body of banks and other financial institutions whose members include public as well as private sector banks, cooperative banks and regional banks.
The government and the RBI have maintained that they are working to ensure the stability of the country’s financial system.
In a major relief to loan borrowers, the RBI on Friday permitted commercial banks and other financial lenders to allow borrowers to delay their loan repayments by a period of three months, in a bid to cushion them from the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
On the same day, the RBI lowered the key lending rates and announced money market measures to ensure sufficient liquidity in the system to counter the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.