No uncertainty over merger of PSBs: Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi [India], Feb 26 (ANI): Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said there is no uncertainty over the merger of public sector banks (PSBs) and the process is going on as per the schedule.

"There are no uncertainties about the bank merger. Discussions are going on in this regard. I must thank all the banks because through their boards they have taken that call. There is absolutely no uncertainty," Sitharaman said at a press conference here.

"The government is conscious of the extra load on banks in terms of the kind of demands that the Finance Ministry has put on them. I have asked them to reach out to 400 districts. I have asked them to reach out to MSMEs and restructure their loans," she said.

"So, there is a lot of core banking work which they are undertaking. The merger and the decisions taken by the bank are well taken. We are going as per the schedule in this regard," added she.

She said that after the Parliament session was over, she would visit a district and would interact with branch people.

Replying to a question on the impact of novel coronavirus on the Indian economy, she said: "We are closely monitoring the situation. We will have a quick review. Respective secretaries have gone back to their departments and taking review meetings."

The minister said she had a meeting regarding MSME sector with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.

"Banks have given us information as to how many MSMEs they have restructured, reached out to, their loans and everything else. Few MSMEs that are lying pending before them, we have requested them to clear out all by March 15," she said.

"The accounts identified were 5.53 lakh of which 5.28 lakh entities have been restructured. And the rest will be cleared by March 15," she said.

Responding to a question if there is any instruction to banks to stop putting Rs 2,000 note in ATM, Sitharaman said: "As far as I know, no such instruction has been given to banks."

She also exhorted PSBs to have a one-to-one interface with their customers through branch-based banking and not rely so much on credit rating agencies. (ANI)