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‘Humiliated’ by note ban events, do away with interference: RBI staff to Guv

In a letter, they said the autonomy and image of RBI has been “dented beyond repair” due to mismanagement and termed appointment of a senior finance ministry official as a “blatant encroachment” of its exclusive turf of currency management.

business Updated: Jan 14, 2017 11:58 IST
People waiting to exchange demonetised currency make enquiries at the closed gates of Reserve Bank of India in Bangalore on January 2, 2017 after acceptance of the banned 500 rupee and 1000 rupee notes stopped at banks and RBI two days ago.
People waiting to exchange demonetised currency make enquiries at the closed gates of Reserve Bank of India in Bangalore on January 2, 2017 after acceptance of the banned 500 rupee and 1000 rupee notes stopped at banks and RBI two days ago.(AFP Photo)

Feeling “humiliated” by events since demonetisation, RBI employees on Friday wrote to governor Urjit Patel, protesting against operational “mismanagement” in the exercise and the Centre impinging its autonomy by appointing an official for currency coordination.

In a letter, they said the autonomy and image of RBI has been “dented beyond repair” due to mismanagement and termed appointment of a senior finance ministry official as a “blatant encroachment” of its exclusive turf of currency management.

“An image of efficiency and independence that RBI assiduously built up over decades by the strenuous efforts of its staff and judicious policy making has gone into smithereens in no time. We feel extremely pained,” the United Forum of Reserve Bank Officers and Employees said in the letter addressed to Patel.

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Commenting on “mismanagement” since November 8, when demonetisation was announced, and the criticism from different quarters, the letter said, “It’s (RBI’s) autonomy and image have been dented beyond repair.”

At least two of the four signatories — Samir Ghosh of All India Reserve Bank Employees Association and Suryakant Mahadik of All India Reserve Bank Workers Federation — confirmed the letter. The other signatories are CM Paulsil of All India Reserve Bank Officers Association and R N Vatsa of RBI Officers Association.

The forum represents over 18,000 employees of the RBI across the ranks, Ghosh said.

The letter said appointment of an officer to coordinate currency management is a “blatant encroachment” on the exclusive jurisdiction of the RBI on currency and accused the government of “impinging on RBI autonomy”.

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“May we request that as the governor of RBI, its highest functionary and protector of its autonomy and prestige, you will please do the needful urgently to do away with this unwarranted interference from the ministry of finance, and assure the staff accordingly, as the staff feel humiliated,” it said, soliciting “urgent action”.

The RBI has been discharging the role of currency management for over eight decades since 1935, it said, adding the central bank does not need “any assistance” and the interference from the finance ministry is “absolutely unacceptable and deplorable”.

The letter comes days after concerns about RBI’s functioning being raised by at least three former governors — Manmohan Singh (also the former prime minister), Y V Reddy and Bimal Jalan. Former deputy governors, including Usha Thorat and KC Chakrabarty, have also voiced their concerns.

The letter said the RBI staff has carried out its job excellently following the move to ban 87% of the outstanding currency by the Government.

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