RBI cautions banks charging high prices on their products
Chennai: Cautioning banks charging high prices on products offered to customers, Reserve Bank Deputy Governor K C Chakrabarty on Sunday said a new set of guidelines would be announced during the coming Ombudsman Conference in Mumbai.
"I am telling you that if you believe that the pricing has become exploratory then we will intervene. We have intervened in the case of micro-finance institutions. What I am saying is, discriminatory pricing (on products offered to customers) should not be there. Pricing should be non-discriminatory," Chakrabarty told reporters here.
During the Ombudsman Conference, to be chaired by RBI Governor D Subbarao, on January 4, new guidelines would be announced. "Some new guidelines will come on how it (RBI) can be more stringent in pricing the products to customers of banks", he said.
"(Banks) you have to understand the customer needs and be reasonable to customers," he said, adding, "do not do lip service" .
Observing that banks charge high interest rates for offering educational loans compared to home loans, he said "I am only raising a question why it cannot be reduced."
Earlier, after releasing a book 'Indian Banking Reforms and After', written by banker Dharmalingam Venugopal, also Indian Overseas Bank employee, Chakrabarty said banks need to ensure that they maintain high level of productivity and efficiency in their operations.
"While profit margins are important for sustaining banking operations, the cost of operational inefficiencies of banks should not be passed on to customers by way of higher service charges and fees," he warned.
On restructuring of loans by banks offered to individuals and enterprises, he said an element of discrimination was practiced by the banks in restructuring of loans.
"Analysis of available data indicates that the larger borrowers have invariably received benefit of restructuring of their loans, while the restructuring in case of SMEs has remained low. I believe with a timely intervention and support from the banks, this sector would have definitely shown much lower levels of impaired assets than it does", he said.
Stating that business operations of banks should be "customer-centric" in nature, Chakrabarty said, "this should be reflected in all aspects of banking operations including creation of customised products and services".
To a query on the Union Government's proposal to roll out cash-transfer scheme from January one, 2013, he said, "we were asking (banks) to do it for more than two years. Now, it has encouraged the government to come out with this particular scheme".
"Now everybody has a bank account and if the money is credited into the account, it can stop the leakages. It will also make the financial inclusion more effective. I am telling them (banks) for the last three years as part of their normal business, but now they (banks) are forced to do." he said.