Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

New Year resolutions never made

A look at New Year resolutions never made by commercial bankers, regulators and other finance professionals in 2014

Following are the New Year resolutions never made by commercial bankers, regulators and other finance professionals in 2014:

Usha Ananthasubramanian, chairman and managing director, Bharatiya Mahila Bank:

I have a huge task in hand—I will have to expand the branch network, create customer base and disburse loans to women borrowers. We started with seven branches and 77 customers but we will make it big this year. Indeed, we will inspire women with entrepreneurial skills; we will train them in vocations like toy-making, driving tractors and mobile phone repairs.

While this will take time, we will start with employees of organizations run by women CEOs, even if that means giving loans to men. To begin with, we will look at the employees of three banks—State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank. We will take care of their all banking needs and even offer to keep their salary accounts. I am sure that Arundhati, Chanda and Shikha will not grudge me as all of us want this bank to succeed.

Arundhati Bhattacharya, chairman, State Bank of India:

I cannot make State Bank of India an exclusive bank for women just because it has got its first woman CEO in its 206-year history, but we will definitely give special privileges to women customers in the new year. In fact, we have already started doing this. In December, we cut the home loan rates for women borrowers by 0.05%. Those women who are the sole applicants or first co-applicant and also the sole or first co-owner of a property get the benefit. For every 1 lakh loan, women borrowers will now pay 985 against 990 paid by men.

Critics may say it’s not a huge sum but they can definitely have breakfast on the money thus saved. They can buy bread and eggs… If onion remains expensive, they will not have omelettes. Boiled egg is fine with toasted bread and tea for breakfast.

Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, chairman, Bandhan Financial Services Ltd:

It’s my dream to float a bank. Mamata-di (West Bengal chief minister) once told me that she has been working for “ma, mati and manoos" and I must help her by setting up a bank for poor manoos. I need “poribartan" in banking norms. I will work for poor masses and for that I want the Reserve Bank to allow me to keep less cash with the central bank in the form of CRR and invest less money in government bonds in the form of SLR. Once Bandhan gets the banking licence in 2014, we will give credit to everybody in West Bengal.

Paresh Sukthankar, deputy managing director, HDFC Bank Ltd:

The day the bank’s board approved my new designation, pink papers went to town calling me as Aditya Puri’s successor in HDFC Bank. Does it really matter whether I am an executive director or deputy managing director? All our employees know who will succeed Aditya. Any way, I have been running the bank in the evenings as Aditya goes home at 5pm every day.

K.C. Chakrabarty, deputy governor, Reserve Bank of India:

I was a commercial banker; I know how bad loans are created. There is absolutely no monitoring of loans by the public sector banks. We will change how banking is done by public sector bankers. How can we justify so much restructuring of bad loans? My one-point agenda in 2014 is to bury bad loans. If that means closing down some banks, so be it.

T.S. Vijayan, chairman, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority:

My agenda for this year is pushing all banks to become brokers and not agents of insurance companies. There will be hundreds of new products in the market in 2014. Insurance penetration in the country has risen from 2.72% in 2000 when private players were allowed to set shops to around 4% now. My aim this year is to cross 5%. They did not find me fit to continue as chairman of Life Insurance Corp. of India but I could become the regulator. I can do it.

Bimal Jalan, former RBI governor and head of a panel of experts to vet applications for new banks:

I did give only two licences—to Kotak Mahindra Bank and Yes Bank—during my tenure as governor. I wanted to give more but there weren’t too many takers. Now that there are 25 applications, I want to give more licences. One RBI governor once said he decides on whether to hike the interest rate or not on the toss of a coin but I cannot do that for a bank licence. The panel really needs to work hard. It should meticulously look at the health of all applicants. All promoters who can run the Mumbai Marathon in January are fit and proper and should get the licence even if that means saying yes to all.

Raghuram Rajan, governor, Reserve Bank of India:

A few days here and there do not really matter. I am determined to push new bank licensing fast. There will not be an endless wait for the licences. We must identify the successful applicants as early as possible.

I had said that we would do it before my colleague, deputy governor Anand Sinha, retires in January and I stick to my commitment. I will not allow Sinha to retire before the task is accomplished. If I cannot give him an extension, we will make him an officer on special duty till the bank licences are given.

Jignesh Shah, chairman, Financial Technologies (India) Ltd:

I know all of you are curious about what will happen to me. All I can say at this point is, wait, picture abhi baki hai, mere dost.

Tamal Bandyopadhyay keeps a close eye on everything banking from his perch as Mint’s deputy managing editor in Mumbai. He is also the author of A Bank for the Buck, a book on HDFC Bank. Email your comments to bankerstrust@livemint.com

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