Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal told the Assembly that the Government was concerned that a foreign entity with questionable public commitment had taken control of Catholic Syrian Bank (CSB).
Replying to a calling attention motion moved by Communist Party of India (Marxist) legislator P. Nandakumar, Mr. Balagopal said the CSB held ₹35,000 crore in deposits. A bulk of the depositors were Keralites.
The Centre had allowed up to 74% foreign investment in private scheduled banks. Such banks came under the purview of the Reserve Bank of India, and the State’s jurisdiction was limited.
“There is only so much Kerala Government could do. But the State would raise the people’s concerns with the Central Government and the RBI. The Government will also initiate talks with the CSB’s management and raise the concerns aired by depositors, general public, and bank staff,” he said.
Mr. Nandakumar slammed the anti-people and pro-corporate policies of the CSB. He said a Canadian investment firm with no commitment to the State controlled the CSB. It had stopped disbursing housing, education, and small scale business loans, fearing non-remittance.
Instead, the CSB used the deposits collected from local people to finance corporate ventures. It insisted that customers have a minimum of ₹30,000 in their account, which discourages saving bank accounts, Mr. Nandakumar said.
The incumbent management had dismissed senior staff and employed contract workers instead. People who run the CSB did not know the history or the legacy of the oldest private scheduled bank in Kerala. He said banks would go on a strike on October 27 in solidarity with CSB employees.
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