The two-day nationwide strike by bank employees has affected clearing of cheques worth Rs7.40 lakh crores across the country on Monday. At many places, ATMs are not functioning or are dried up. The strike would continue on Tuesday as well
Banking operations, including clearing of cheques, across the country were hit Monday as around 10 lakh employees went on a two-day nationwide strike over wage revision settlement and ongoing banking sector reforms.
United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), the umbrella organisation of five employee unions and four officer unions of state-run banks in the country, had given the call for strike on 10-11 February. Due to the strike, banking transactions, including clearing operations, were paralysed across the country. While bank branches remain closed at several places, normal banking services were disrupted.
"All over the country about 10 crore cheques worth Rs7.40 lakh crore could not be cleared. In Chennai clearing house, about 90 lakh cheques worth about Rs64,000 crore could not be processed in clearing. Government transactions, foreign exchange transactions and money market operations were also affected. In many places, ATMs did not function or were dried up," said CH Venkatachalam, general Secretary, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) in a statement.
Around 10 lakh bank employees and officers working in 27 public sector banks including State Bank of India (SBI) and 12 old generation private sector banks and eight foreign banks are on a two days nationwide strike.
Apologising for the inconvenience caused to public due to the strike, Mr Venkatachalam said, "Since Indian Bank's Association (IBA) and government did not settle our demands, the strike has been forced on us. We are sorry that the banking public would have been inconvenienced by this strike but that was unavoidable due to the non-serious approach of the IBA and government to avert the strike by improving their offer on wage increase and discussing our concerns on the banking sector reforms."
UFBU had called for a strike on 20-21 January this year. At that time, the IBA increased its offer to 9.5% from 5% with a promise to improve it further. However, during the discussions on 27th January, the IBA increased its offer by just 0.5% to 10%, which was rejected by UFBU representatives. The Union has been seeking an increase of 30% as their wage revision is pending since November 2012.
On 14 December 2013, the IBA called the Unions for talks and made their offer, which was found to be too low and hence was not acceptable to the Unions and hence UFBU decided to go ahead with the strike, the statement from AIBEA said.
According to UFBU, the last wage settlement in the banking sector expired in October 2012 and hence a revised settlement was due from November 2012.
Mr Venkatachalam said, bank managements are claiming that bad loans are increasing and hence profits are reducing. “Bad loans increase but not because of employees. Employees should not be held responsible for the same. In the last five years Rs1.40 lakh crore have been provided towards bad loans from the profits. In addition, in the last six years, bad loans worth Rs1.41 lakh crore have been written off. But when it comes to our salary revision, managements are reluctant,” he said.
According to UFBU, its demands are reasonable and also negotiable. Mr Venkatachalam said, “UFBU would like to settle the demands through mutual discussions. But if the banks do not adopt a fair approach, the employees’ resentment would have to be ventilated through strikes only. We hope that IBA would understand our demands and come forward to settle the demands through amicable negotiations and finalise the settlement at the earliest.”
Qualified entities will be able to raise money through debt securities for four times via a single shelf prospectus within a year. Only question is, does the capital market have sufficient appetite to invite new players for raising funds?
The Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) came out with a notification on 31 January 2014, making insertions in the SEBI (Issue and Listing of Debt Securities) Regulations, 2008 to meet the requirements as per the Companies Act, 2013. The amendments will be effective from the date on which it gets published in the official gazette of India and will be known as SEBI (Issue and Listing of Debt Securities) (Amendment) Regulations, 2014.
Do these amendments call for good times for non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) at raising funds? In this article, we are exploring the impact that the amendments will have in the times to come for NBFCs and corporates to access funds from the markets. The amendments provides flexibility to certain class of NBFCs and listed companies to file shelf prospectus with the Registrar and with SEBI and stock exchange after the filing is done with the Registrar at the time of first offer of the securities in question. In this article we intend to bring down the need of this amendment and to cover the amendments in brief.
What is the need of this amendment?
Under the Companies Act, 1956, only public financial institutions, public sector banks and scheduled commercial banks allowed to raise funds by way of filing a shelf prospectus, but the ministry has liberalised the policy through the Companies Act, 2013. Section 31(1) of the Companies Act, 2013 says –
“Any class or classes of companies, as the Securities and Exchange Board may provide by regulations in this behalf, may file a shelf prospectus with the Registrar at the stage of the first offer of securities included therein which shall indicate a period not exceeding one year as the period of validity of such prospectus which shall commence from the date of opening of the first offer of securities under that prospectus, and in respect of a second or subsequent offer of such securities issued during the period of validity of that prospectus, no further prospectus is required.”
Only those companies, which are provided by the SEBI through regulations will be required to file the shelf prospectus to the Registrar at the stage of first offer of the securities in question. So this section points out the need of this amendment.
What does the amendment say?
The SEBI through this amendment has made several insertions in the existing Debt Regulations and they have been listed down below –
Section 2(57) – “net worth” means the aggregate value of the paid-up share capital and all reserves created out of the profits and securities premium account, after deducting the aggregate value of the accumulated losses, deferred expenditure and miscellaneous expenditure not written off, as per the audited balance sheet, but does not include reserves created out of revaluation of assets, write-back of depreciation and amalgamation.
Explanation to Section 31 – “shelf prospectus” means a prospectus in respect of which the securities or class of securities included therein are issued for subscription in one or more issues over a certain period without the issue of a further prospectus.
With this amended regulation in place, the capital market will become easily accessible for the entities covered under this regulation. The qualified entity will be able to raise money by way of debt securities for four times through a single shelf prospectus within a year from the date of opening first offer of such securities instead of complying with the long drawn process of public issue each time.
Despite the new Pandora box that Companies Act, 2013 has opened up, this one might do some good to the corporates for raising funds. In the current financial year, the NBFCs have already raised around Rs9,500 crore from the capital market by publicly issuing non-convertible debentures (NCDs), this inclusion in the list might act as a kindle to the fire and the volumes might even go up. After all these only one question remains left to be answered - Does the capital market has sufficient appetite to invite new players to raise funds? Well, to get the answer, we will have to wait and watch.
(Abhirup Ghosh works at Vinod Kothari & Company)
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