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Dr Reddy's heart beats for the common man

BS Bureau in Mumbai | November 04, 2003

Next time the common man goes out for sundry purchases, he needn't worry about getting back the balance in new notes.

What is more, he can also forget about getting a Chlormint or a toffee in lieu of coins. From the look of it, it appears that the Reserve Bank of India Governor Y V Reddy's heart beats for the common man.

Stepping away from finance buzzwords like CRR, SLR, PLR and other assortment of acronyms which can knock down even the sturdiest of finance professionals, Reddy has taken time off to shape the policy for the common man.

The RBI has roped in post offices to distribute new notes and coins.

This is over and above the substantial improvement in the central bank's note policy in the last one year.

In order to support the system for handling notes in a de-stapled condition, banks were advised to provide necessary infrastructure like note banding, note counting and sorting machines.

While most of the currency chests have de-stapled the stock of stapled notes, a number of banks have given wide publicity regarding non-stapling of note packets.

To expand distribution channels for fresh notes and coins and withdraw soiled notes from circulation, banks were also advised to increase the number of currency chests and small coin depots, accept soiled notes and coins in exchange, offer facilities for adjudication of mutilated notes and stock their ATMs adequately.

The RBI said though it appreciated the phenomenal progress in recent times, it urged further sprucing up in this regard as a collaborative effort between the RBI and the banks.

To improve the number of places where citizens can pay their taxes and even draw their pensions, four private sector banks -- HDFC Bank, UTI Bank, ICICI Bank and IDBI Bank -- have been authorised to handle government transactions.

These include revenue collection, pension payments and expenditure related functions of all central government ministries/departments with effect from October 1, 2003.

Ordinary citizens can also expect to get their tax refunds credited straight into their bank accounts.

The RBI has decided to pay tax refunds through the electronic clearing services to assessees in select cities where banks presently offer this facility.

As part of a pilot project, tax refunds up to Rs 25,000 will be made through the ECS to the beneficiaries in these select cities.

Then there is the proposal to set up a Standing Committee.

This is to benchmark the current level of the public service rendered by the RBI's own offices, review the progress periodically, enhance the timeliness and quality, rationalise the processes taking account of technological developments, and suggest appropriate incentives to facilitate change on an ongoing basis.

This committee will have two functions. It will first undertake procedure and performance audit on public services and regulatory clearances in RBI.

It will then advise and co-ordinate with the ad hoc committees on customer services proposed to be set up by banks for rationalisation of instructions on procedures prescribed by RBI that impinge on the customer services of banks.

Each commercial bank is advised to constitute an ad hoc committee to undertake procedures and performance audit on public services rendered by it.

The committees would look into simplification of procedures and practices with a view to safeguarding the interests of common persons.

These could be current or savings account holders, depositors or borrowers, from any unfair procedural practices like delayed credit of interest, handling of deceased accounts, release of mortgage documents, reversal of erroneous entries in credit cards, updation of passbooks, transparency of charges levied on customers, unilateral debits in the customer accounts, foreign exchange transactions, etc.

The committees would also review customer service parameters which have been a bane for long.

These include meeting their demands for fresh/good notes and coins of all denominations, exchanging soiled notes, adjudicating mutilated notes, and accepting coins and notes either for transactions or in exchange.

Now, do we see the common man smiling?

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