The finance ministry on Friday requested state governments to provide priority vaccines for bank and other financial services employees and also sought free movement of such employees so that banking services are not interrupted
The finance ministry on Friday requested state governments to provide priority vaccines for bank and other financial services employees, and also sought free movement of such employees so that banking services are not interrupted.
A copy of the letter signed by department of financial services (DFS) secretary Debasish Panda was posted by him on Twitter.
“Since bank staff have to necessarily commute from their homes to their offices, branches and the said offices, branches have to function and remain physically open, may I request your personal attention in kindly instructing all district magistrates, superintendents of police and other local authorities to cooperate with bank and financial services' employees, provide adequate safety and security to them, and not hinder or impede their functioning or movement," Panda wrote in a letter addressed to chief secretaries of all states.
On 22 April, the finance ministry had written to state governments, bank and insurance company chiefs and the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), among others, to consider putting in place a special dispensation for priority vaccination of their staff.
On Friday, Panda also said that there have been some unfortunate instances in different states and Union territories where bank employees have been manhandled by state law enforcement authorities.
Likewise, offices of banks and branches have occasionally been ordered to shut down even during permitted banking hours, accompanied by threats, he said.
“While bank employees are already braving risks to their health and need to be assured about their safety, these incidents result in the exact opposite and end up demoralizing them and their families, which leads to disruption in services," added Panda.
The last round of the pandemic saw 600 bankers lose the battle to covid-19 and it is estimated that a significant number of bank employees have been infected this time as well. However, most banks have not released any data on how many of their employees have contracted the virus that has come back with renewed vigour in the second wave.
The IBA had written to the ministry on 1 February requesting inclusion of bankers in the priority list of vaccinations, citing, among other things, the new mutant variant of covid-19. “The matter was discussed at the meeting of managing committee of IBA held on 15 January, wherein a strong consensus was arrived for requesting the government to include bank employees in the priority list for free vaccinations," the IBA letter had said.
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