The Finance Ministry has asked State governments to put in place a special system to vaccinate employees of banks, insurance companies and financial services providers, including banking correspondents and cash logistic providers, on priority basis.
This is necessary, especially after the government’s recent decision to open up vaccination to all persons above the age of 18 years from May 1, said the Department of Financial Services (DFS) in a letter addressed to the Chief Secretaries of all States.
Enabling bank staff and employees of the financial services industry avail vaccination easily will go a long way in assuring them about their safety/life and will also boost their morale in continuing to provide best services to customers, the letter added.
The respective convenor of the State-level bankers committee (SLBC) in each State will coordinate with the office of the Chief Secretary, it added.
The DFS letter pointed out that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs on the management of Covid-19 pandemic had recently recognised banking and other financial services industry personnel as ‘Covid Warriors’, and appreciated the efforts taken by them in providing seamless banking facilities during the lockdown.
The DFS has highlighted that under its regular monitoring, all employees of banks, insurance companies, NPCI, payment system providers /operators/vendors, cash logistic companies/cash-in-transit companies/ATM maintenance personal, banking correspondents and customer service points, have played a critical role.
They had ensured that their branches/offices remained open and functional and continued to provide the complete suite of financial services to their customers, including ATM and micro ATM networks, despite issues in mobility and adherence to social distancing precautions.
Unfortunately, in their efforts to provide continuous service, many officials have succumbed to the virus and some of them also lost their lives, the DFS letter added.
Hailing the DFS directive to State governments, Anand Bajaj, Founder, MD and CEO, PayNearby and Board Member of Business Correspondents Federation of India (BCFI), said: “Our frontline warriors, our BC agents, are putting themselves on the line to ensure citizens have access to financial resources to fight the pandemic. Their protection through vaccination is truly appreciated.”
He said that BCFI had written letters to the government to help provide with the vaccine for its BC agents.
It may be recalled that BCFI CEO Sunil Kulkarni had, on December 11 last year, written to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman requesting the inclusion of banking agents (business correspondent agents/bank Mitras/customer service points), teams of member companies of BCFI, and their family members in the government’s special immunisation distribution programme for Covid-19 vaccine in the initial phase so that they can continue to service citizens with banking services without worrying about the continued risks.