Bank Employees Federation of India
NARESH PAUL CENTRE
53 Radha Bazar Lane, Kolkata – 700 001
16th Nov 2020
Reserve Bank of India
Central Office Building
Shahid Bhagat Singh Road
Sub: Business Correspondents (Bank Mitras)
Since introduction of kiosk banking in our country for providing banking services mainly to the vulnerable groups such as weaker section and people with low income in the unbanked areas; this model played pivotal role in reaching new heights of Govt’s project of financial inclusion. The Business Correspondents (BC) popularly named as ‘Bank Mitra' which provides friendliness to the customers managing the kiosks, termed as Customer Service Points (CSP), have put yeomen service to make this project successful.
We welcome modifications of comprehensive guidelines by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on BC operations from time to time. We understand that the latest guidelines have been issued by RBI through Master Circular on Branch Authorization No. DBOD. BAPD.BC.7/22.01.001/2014-15 dated 01.07.2014. So far Cash Management of BCs is concerned, RBI issued circular on Scaling up of the Business Correspondent (BC) Model with No. RPCD.FID.BC. 96/12.01.011/2013-14 dated 22.04.2014.
However, we would like to draw your attention to some of the problems related with the BCs mentioned herein below:
1. There are two types of BCs; appointed by the banks directly and appointed through corporate agencies. While the commissions earned by the directly recruited individual are free from any deduction, the commissions earned by those recruited through corporate agencies are subjected to deductions of corporate commissions. The banks should ensure payment of uniform commissions to all the BCs, otherwise the agency based recruitment should be done away with.
2. The BCs are earning commissions depending upon assessment of volume and/or quantum of performance and nature of services rendered etc. We observe that commissions are varying from bank to banks. In this regard also parameters should be set at par for all the banks.
3. The BCs are required to bear their establishment and operational costs such as electricity, prints out supplied to customers, maintaining office, computers and other electronic gadgets etc. The commissions earned accordingly stand reduced through meeting such costs. A fixed remuneration towards establishment expenses should be considered.
4. The BCs are performing highly skilled jobs but denied central Government Minimum wages payable for skilled workers as was defined under the minimum wages Act 1948 and continued even after enactment of the code of wages 2009 replacing the above act. The justice for BCs could only be met, if equal pay for equal works could be ensured. Moreover, in many occasions the BCs are to perform works for more than eight hours to complete day’s job. The working hours of BCs to be limited upto eight hours a day.
5. The BCs are supposed to handle cash directly, from receiving money of customers till deposited at the respective bank branches; some of which are far away from the CSPs. We came across information that several BCs have been looted and murdered by miscreants while remitting cash. The banks should be directed to extend cash-in-transit insurance for all the BCs who have not done as yet and at the same time make appropriate security arrangements .
6. The BCs are not covered under PF, gratuity , Bonus etc Acts. In the given nature of their appointment, the legal provisions as comprehended under Contract Labour [Abolition and Regulation] Act 1970 cannot be denied to be applicable to them, if on positive consideration of same, they would be entailed to central Govt. Minimum Wages for skilled employee, PF. Gratuity, Bonus , Medical assistance etc. They should be covered under medical assistance also.
7. This demand has become more relevant during the Covid-19 pandemic when the BCs rendered their services to the people even risking their lives. These BCs performed their jobs, in many places round the clock, in paying the allocated amount to the PMGKY beneficiaries. These BCs had to utilise biometric devices when in all other places it was banned to contain spreading of virus infection. In the process, thousands of BC got infected while a number of them died.
We seek your intervention in this matter so that the banks take care of service conditions and remunerations of the BCs in accordance with their services and law of the land.
(Debasish Basu Chaudhury)