- Public sector banking stocks are running in the green with Bank of Maharashtra leading the rally.
- This jump in stock prices comes after a report by Reuters revealed that Bank of Maharashtra, Indian Overseas Bank, Bank of India and Central Bank of India have been shortlisted for privatisation.
- However, banking unions are not happy about the move and plan to go on a two-day strike in March.
The Indian government has reportedly shortlisted four banks that could possibly be up for privatisation. Bank of Maharashtra, Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank and Central Bank are on the docket for privatisation, according to Reuters. But, the Indian government is yet to finalise which two of these four will be selected for disinvestment in the financial year 2021-22.
While the government has not commented on this development, the four shortlisted banks are leading the rally in public sector banking stocks.
At the time of writing this article, Bank of Maharashtra’s share price is up by a massive 19.81% followed by Indian Overseas Bank’s stock jumping 14.51%.
|Bank||Share price gains on Feb 16|
|Bank of Maharashtra||19.81%|
|Indian Overseas Bank||14.51%|
|Central Bank of India||11.47%|
|Bank of India||10.71%|
Source: NSE as of 12:15 pm
The Modi administration is pushing to sell assets in order to shore up government revenue after massive public expenditure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, banking unions in the country aren’t on board with the plan to sell public sector assets to private players — especially, within the banking industry.
Two-day bank strike scheduled for March
The All India Bank Officers’ Confederation has called for protests starting February 19, which will culminate into a two-day strike in March.
Bank strike schedule:
|February 19||Day-long protest in all state capitals|
|February 20 – March 10||Relay protests in all states, districts and towns|
|March 15 – 16||Two-day strike|
Source: Strike notice
“The Government’s announcement to privatise our public sector banks is totally unfortunate and unwarranted. The need of the hour is to strengthen public sector Banks” said the strike notice.
|Bank of India||50,000|
|Central Bank of India||33,000|
|Indian Overseas Bank||26,000|
|Bank of Maharashtra||13,000|
Source: Bank union estimates
The plan for privatising India’s banks
For now, it’s only mid-sized and small banks which have been put up on the chopping block. Going forward, some of the bigger banks might also be put up for sale to the private sector, according to Reuters.
India now has 12 public sector banks, down from 27 in 2017. Even so, they collectively contribute to around 60% of banking in the market.
The State Bank of India (SBI) is the only bank that will be spared from this pruning exercise. The government justifies that SBI is a ‘strategic bank’ — responsible for implementing public sector initiatives like expanding rural credit.
The banking unions argue that the same argument can also be made for other public sector banks. According to them, chemes like Jan Dhan Yojana and MUDRA have been successful because of public sector banks and their rigorous implementation.
Even during the pandemic, the unions believed that they were integral in implementing measures that support the government’s impetus to provide liquidity and fiscal stimulus. “Privatising them means handing over the people’s money to private hands with vested interest,” the unions said during the post-budget reaction.
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