Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has opposed the decision of the State Administrative Council (SAC) to bring J&K Bank Ltd under the purview of RTI, Chief Vigilance Commission and the Legislature.
In a statement, KCCI said J&K Bank cannot be treated as any other Public Sector Undertaking as it is a public listed company and governed under banking laws.
“The decision is being seen as unwarranted interference in the functioning of the Bank. It is because of the autonomy, Bank enjoyed since its inception that it has attained present level and become an important component in the existing economic structure of the State.”
Ti said more than 50,000 shareholders have stakes in the Bank.
“The Government is only one of the shareholders with only 59.3 % shares. In the strict sense, it is not a department of the Government nor is owned by the Government. It is not even substantially financed by the Government. Instead, the Government receives heavy dividends from the Bank. The people of the State have a vested interest in the functioning of the Bank. More than 90% of our members are connected with the Bank in one form or the other.”
KCCI said JK State has seen tenure of previous Governors in last seventy years and also brought under Governors rule eleven times.
“Not a single Governor tinkered with the functioning of the Bank. It is for the first time that Bank had to engage additionally 582 banking associates when they were not needed as per the requirements.”
It said not a single case was filed against the Bank questioning recruitments made by it.
“But for the intervention of the Executive Head, more people came to be engaged increasing the avoidable expenditure of the Bank. Engagement of our unemployed youth cannot be resolved by providing them services in the Bank.”
It said architects, graduates, post graduates and other professionals have been engaged for rendering banking services when their services could have been better utilized in the concerned departments of the Government.
“It appears failure of the Government to provide employment to our educated unemployed youth is sought to be shifted to a semi-private Bank. It further appears that since the Bank has done well because of the credibility and support it enjoys in the people as an institution, the decision was taken to bring down this institution to a level of PSU of the Government.”
The Bank has over a period of time become synonymous with the identity of the people of the State and occupies a special sentimental place in their hearts.
They consider it to be their own bank. The people and the Government under the existing scenario are not on the same page.
KCCI further said people look upon the Bank for financial help.
“Since it is now a PSU, people needing help will have to follow cumbersome red tapism and seek clearances from bureaucracy and/or ministry. The CEO of the Bank is reduced to a Managing Director of the Company.”
It said only few people holding political power who are major defaulters, while most of the borrowers of the state repay loans.
The KCCI said as a consequence of these decisions, the image of the Bank has been tarnished which could be catastrophic for any financial institution, its shareholders and those doing business with it.
KCC&I has been on record to express its concern at the losses to our economy being caused by the lack of accountability in the State owned Public Sector Undertakings.
The Chamber said the current liabilities of these PSUs to be upwards of Rs 10,000 crores.
“Audits have not been conducted since decades and mandatory Board Meetings are not being convened over years causing huge losses.”
The KCC&I considers that the Bank’s status as it was on 22nd of November, 2018 should be restored. Should any improvement be required, it can be discussed with stakeholders.