PUNJAB GOVERNMENT ISSUES ADVISORY REGARDING OPERATIONS OF BANKS ON MARCH 30 & 31 AMID COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS

Chandigarh March 29: The Punjab Government has issued an advisory regarding operation of banks branches during curfew amid COVID-19 in the State on 30th and 31st March, 2020 and beyond. 

Disclosing this here today an official spokesperson said that the State Home Department has issued elaborate instructions to all the Deputy Commissioners of the State and UT Chandigarh to extend necessary support and ensure other relaxation to the banking staff. 

According to the advisory, it has been decided that all the bank branches, ATMs, Banking Correspondents (BCs), Cash in transit/cash replenishment agencies, IT and engineering support vendors for banks shall be operational on 30th and 31st March, 2020. Hence, all the Deputy Commissioners in the state and UT Chandigarh have been directed  to provide necessary support by means of issuance of passes/other requisite relaxation. Since 1st April, 2020 is a non-public dealing day for the banks and there shall be no public dealing in the bank branches. However, the bank staff should be provided requisite passes for 1st April, 2020 also. From 3rd April, 2020 onwards, the operation of Bank branches, ATMs, BCs, cash in transit/cash replenishment agencies, IT and engineering support vendors for banks shall regulated with skeletal staff as ; bank Branches shall be open only on two days of the week, on rotation basis, only one third of the branches shall be open on the other days of the week, subsequent to the said instructions, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India vide its order no. 40-3/2020-D dated  March 24, 2020 has issued guidelines that all commercial and private establishments shall be closed down except certain commercial and private establishments which include banks and ATMs also.

The banks would ensure that the ATMs are operational 24X7 and BCs provide services in rural areas with the security staff and BCs instructed to ensure social distancing and hygiene. Further, while implementing the above for opening of the banking establishments in line with the business continuity plan the existing instructions regarding skeletal staff, social distancing and hygiene and all the instructions issued by Home Department/Health Department are strictly complied with the spokesperson added.

It has also been retitrated that it is very crucial and critical to keep banking channels open and make sure that branches and BCs function throughout the lockdown period, so that people do not face any hassles or problems in their financial transactions.

The advisory further pointed out that there is an urgent need to keep the system operational, moreover, to tackle the impact of COVID-19 as the Government of India and Punjab Government have announced certain relief measures to various categories of Indian Citizens and these benefits have to be passed on to these beneficiaries in the time bound manner. Such benefits can reach the beneficiaries only when the banking channel is operational.

Apart from this, the Reserve Bank of India vide its letter on March 27, 2020 has announced special measures for Annual Closing (2019-2020) of Government Accounts which envisages; all Government transactions done by agency banks for FY 2019-20 must be accounted for within the same financial year, all agency banks should keep their designated branches open for over the counter transactions related to Government transactions upto the normal working hours on March 31, 2020, Government Transactions through RTGS would operate for extended time on March 31, 2020 for which separate institutions would be issued, transactions through NEFT would continue upto 2400 hour as hitherto on March 31, 2020, Special Clearing would be conducted for collection of Government cheques on March 31, 2020 for which separate necessary instructions will be issued. Regarding reporting of Central and State Government transactions to RBI, including uploading of GST/E-receipts luggage files, the reporting window on March 31, 2020 will be extended and kept open till 1200 hours on April 1, 2020.

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