Hailing from Kolkata and now a resident of Bengaluru, Sromona is a multimedia journalist who has a knack for digging stories that truly deserve attention.
In the last three and a half years, account holders who have failed to maintain the minimum balance amount in their accounts and have exceeded their daily ATM transaction limits have added a whopping Rs 10, 000 crore to the pockets of Indian public sector banks.
The data came to light in the form of a response to a question posed by Lok Sabha MP Dibyendu Adhikari during the latest Winter Session. To be exact, between April 2015 and September 2018, Indian banks have earned at least Rs 10,391.43 in the form of fines from account holders. To put this into perspective, the amount collected as fine is more than the stipulated amount that has been fixed for India’s first manned space mission – Gaganyaan.
Reportedly, that the fine for non-maintenance of minimum balance is much higher in private banks than in public banks as between 2015-16 and 2017-18, three Indian private banks earned Rs 4,054.77 crore just by fining their customers for not maintaining a minimum balance in their accounts.
The Union Finance Ministry shared the information during the Lok Sabha session on December 21 and the written response shows that the total amount collected by banks for non-maintenance of minimum balance is Rs 6,246.44 while fine for making extra ATM transactions was Rs 4,144.99 crore. India’s largest lender, State Bank of India ranked the highest in both regards.
The Reserve Bank Of India’s guidelines empowers banks to determine the minimum balance for a savings account and the fine that needs to be collected for non-maintenance. The RBI, with regards to ATM transactions, says that banks should allow customers to carry out five free transactions from ATMs of home banks per month. Savings accounts under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) have been exempted from the minimum balance rule.
India Today reported SBI’s Managing Director PK Gupta as justifying the charges that have been levied by the banks. “With substantial investment in infrastructure and technology, it becomes imperative for the bank to recover at least a part of the cost,” he was quoted as telling PTI.
While it is true that the public sector banks have been drowning in non-performing assets, debts and bad loans, the PSBs also should take care of their customers’ interest. A customer failing to maintain minimum account balance shows that they are not being able to afford to do so. Taking money for not being able to afford to keep money in the bank is slightly not justified.
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