Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Mumbai: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who faced angry customers of PMC Bank on Thursday, failed to reassure the agitated customers that their money was safe. She also did not give a timeline within which the bank would be back on its feet.

The Finance Minister, in all fairness, heard out their grievances but the hapless customers were not satisfied with her assurance. Speaking to the delegation, Sitharaman said, “I will talk to the RBI Governor once again and convey the sense of urgency...”

However, a depositor, who was part of the delegation that meet Sitharaman said, “The Finance minister said that this case does not come under her jurisdiction and it is under RBI’s control.

She heard our grievances but there was no assurance from her side.”Harbans Singh, a bank customer, said, “We needed some sort of assurance about our money, but that was not given to us.”

Another PMC account holder added, “There is a lacuna in terms of communication from the government and regulator which is hitting customers.”

Customers pointed out that sixteen lakh of them were in distress. They felt that the government should sell the assets it has attached from the fraudsters and put the bank back on the track; it could then go ahead and take whatever action it wanted against the accused.

Later, at a press conference, the Finance Minister announced the setting up of a panel to recommend legislative changes to ensure better governance at co-operative banks.

The amendments may even be tables in the winter session of Parliament. Irate depositors had gathered outside the BJP's office in south Mumbai ahead of Sitharaman's press conference.

When she arrived, they shouted slogans, demanding that their money should be returned to them. Sitharaman and a few of the depositors went inside and had a brief conversation.

Asked when the depositors can get their money back, she said it was a process-driven exercise between the RBI and the bank administrator appointed by the RBI. "But, I can emphasise that it has to be done quickly," she said.

Meanwhile, to a question on whether the government accepts there is an economic slowdown, the finance minister evaded a direct reply, and said, "We are giving relief to all sectors which need help."

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