As many as 54 overseas operations were identified for rationalisation, while 29 have been rationalised for cost efficiencies, as of January 15, this year, the Parliament was informed Friday.
Banks pursue rightsizing and rationalisation of their branch network and other operations for cost efficiency and synergy benefits, and invest in and monetise non-core assets as per business strategy, Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.
The minister said a reforms agenda based on recommendations by whole time directors and senior executives of public sector banks (PSBs) was referred by government to PSBs in January 2018 for appropriate action as per approval of bank boards.
"As per information furnished by PSBs, 54 overseas operations were identified for rationalisation and as of January 15, 2019, 29 overseas operations have been rationalised for cost efficiencies and synergies in overseas markets," the minister said.
The reform process includes rationalisation of overseas operations for cost efficiencies and monetisation of non-core assets to strengthen the bank and focus on core business, Shukla informed the lower house.
As on January 31, 2018, PSBs had about 165 overseas branches, besides subsidiaries, joint ventures and representative offices.
All PSBs such as Allahabad Bank, Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, Canara Bank, IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Punjab National Bank, SBI and Union Bank of India that have foreign branches have jointly taken the initiative to prepare a note in mutual consultation for rationalisation of their foreign branches.
The state-owned banks have the largest number of branches in the UK (32) followed by Hong Kong and the UAE (13 each) and Singapore (12).
As many as 41 branches were in losses in 2016-17. SBI led the pack with nine of its overseas branches in the red. It was followed by Bank of India and Bank of Baroda with eight and seven branches, respectively.
According to the banking sector agenda, approved at the PSB Manthan November 2017, banks have to undertake rationalisation of overseas operations.
In reply to a separate question on ATM frauds, Shukla said specific information was not available, however, for state-wise data for amounts involving Rs 1 lakh and more during last three financial years are there.
During 2017-18, there were incidents of 911 automated teller machine (ATM) frauds for amount involving Rs 1 lakh and more, Shukla said.
In 2016-17, a total of 724 cases came to light while there were 563 such instances were there in 2015-16 (for amounts Rs 1 lakh and more), the minister added.
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