about 3 years ago
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By Ruma Dubey

Over the past few days there has been a quiet but boiling rage increasing amongst so many people we spoke to. Talk about “bank charges” and everyone has a very strong opinion but all voice in unison one thing – the banks are looting us to pay for the largesse’s of the businessmen.

One Mr.Gupta said, “Days of keeping money under pillow is coming again.”

Another Mr.Kumar said, “banks give their money to businessman and when they run out from the country then banks apply different tactics to loot common man wealth. I am not an economist or banker, I am a common man who suffers from this looting banking system. That's why after the 70 years of independence, not a single bank form India has reached the international level like HSBC, CITI BANK etc.”

Vimal was thoroughly disgusted and said, “RBI has become silent spectator doing nothing for the people, as banks couldn’t recover corrupted loans they have lend to syndicated high profile mafias, they are looting money from innocent public in the name of CHARGES. What a pathetic financial system and bureaucracy!”

The growing voice of dissent is because on one hand you allow the moneyed industrialists to loot the banks, drown banks and their books in a huge mound of NPAs and now to recover the loss, to show better numbers, you start charging us for services which should be free.

Also the Govt says that it wants more and more people to use less cash; if that is so then why this imposition of penalty on need to maintain minimum balance? Why this designing of a cost structure which pushes one towards ATMs and cash exchange? And for those on the lowest rung on the economic ladder, aren’t we dissuading them from having a bank account and instead pushing them to go back to money lenders or store money at home when they are being penalized.

It is shameful that SBI earned in Q2FY18, more money through such penalties on minimum bank balances than the net profit it earned for the quarter. SBI plans to raise another Rs.2000 crore in H2FY18 through the very same penalties. Is this is how it wants to make up for the NPAs of the bigwigs? We mere mortals are always the one’s to pay and clear all the mess left behind by the rich and famous.

Take a look at these charges:

  • SBI’s minimum balance is Rs.3000 and if it falls below that, the fine is Rs.50+ GST. BoB minimum balance is reasonable – Rs.1000 and if that is not maintained, penalty is Rs.200 per quarter.
  • Private sector charges minimum balance is Rs.10,000; HDFC Bank charges anything between Rs.150 to 600 + GST per month while ICICI Bank charges Rs.100+5% of the shortfall per month.
  • We are today charged for the SMS alerts too – it is usually Rs.15+GST per quarter.
  • We get charged even for cash deposits – SBI allows three “free” cash deposits and after that a charge of Rs.50+GST per transaction.
  • SBI charges for NEFT and online transfers and even for RTGS transfers.
  • Over and above all this, chequebook of 25 leaflets is free, you need more, you need to pay for that too.
  • And yes, the debit card which they keep pushing a us; that is charged Rs.125 to 150 per annum.

What is irksome is that banks are punishing the financially weaker account holders for their inability to maintain a minimum balance, instead of recovering the loans given to corporate customers.  And even more frustrating is that RBI turns a blind eye to this looting; isn’t it supposed to be a watchdog? Well, this dog seems to have neither the eyes nor the bite; or else we would not be in such a huge banking mess today.

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