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Mumbai: The finance ministry has requested the ministry of home affairs and the health ministry to consider prioritising bankers and employees of the National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI) for covid-19 vaccination, showed a government memo.

“This will go a long way in assuring them about the safety of themselves and their families and will also boost their morale in continuing to provide their best services to their customers," said the memo seen by Mint. India, at present, is vaccinating everyone above 45 years of age as the second wave of the virus grips parts of the country and leads to partial lockdowns.

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The finance ministry said that bank employees have played a critical role over the past year in ensuring that branches remain open and functional, and provided complete suite of services to customers. This, it acknowledged, was despite issues in mobility of bank staff to their place of work and issues in adhering to social distancing norms and other precautions.

“Their effort was even more important in view of the disbursal and withdrawal of benefits transferred by the government to beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) and bank employees ensured that beneficiaries did not face any difficulties in withdrawing their benefits," it said.

According to the memo, as people's reliance on digital modes of payment increased, it was critical to ensure that electronic and digital payment channels were available seamlessly round the clock for a safe and secure customer experience. “Here, NPCI staff played a critical role," it said.

The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) wrote 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 in the meeting of managing committee of IBA held on 15 January, wherein a strong consensus was arrived for requesting the government to include the bank employees in the priority list for free vaccinations," said the IBA letter.

Around 600 employees of state-owned banks, private banks, foreign banks, payments banks, and small finance banks have lost their lives during the pandemic, Sunil Mehta, chief executive of the association wrote in the letter.

Similarly, NPCI wrote to the finance ministry on 5 April requesting to consider their employees working from office under the on-going vaccination drive, irrespective of the age group.

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