I would like to wish all of you good health and happiness. I have great pleasure insketching before you the highlights of our Banks performance during the financialyear 2020-21. The year witnessed the full impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic acrossquarters. Many parts of the world were affected by a Second wave of the pandemic even asvaccination drives and access being ramped up bringing a lot of optimism and hope towardsthe close of 2020. India was well on its road to fast recovery around this time withsocial and economic sentiments rising. However by March 2021 India was hit hard by thedevastating second wave. The second wave in India witnessed a higher rate of infectionsand deaths as the healthcare infrastructure society and Governments struggled tosupport and help those impacted by the deadly virus.
As of mid-June the infection rates have moderated and the various measures undertakenby the Governments helped to contain the spread of virus and there is substantialreduction in the number of daily infections and deaths. There is caution regarding apotential third wave of the virus a better state of preparedness and continuing awarenesson Covid appropriate behaviour. Our hearts go out to the victims families and we asa society and a nation need to do our best in helping them to rebuild their lives fromhere on.
Along with the global economy India too experienced a significant contraction in GDPduring 2020-21 due to the pandemic. Supply chain disruptions and increase in key foodprices led to an elevated headline inflation which was moderated in December 2020 witheasing of food prices. Credit and monetary conditions were expansionary and financialmarkets eased amid the backdrop of ample liquidity. Things improved until India was hithard by the second wave of the pandemic in March 2021.
Indias economy grew by 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020-21 cushioningthe full-year contraction to 7.3 percent. The contraction in GDP in FY21 as per theprovisional estimates of the National Statistical Office (NSO) remains a matter ofconcern. Various stimulus measures across the world have been helping countries perchtheir economies back on the growth track and yet globally the recovery remains unevenand uncertain.
Numerous measures were undertaken by the RBI to instill confidence in the financialmarkets and the economy. The total fiscal package announced by the Government during bothwaves of the pandemic was close to Rs.17 lakh crores primarily focused on the AtmanirbharAbhiyan (1.0 2.0 and 3.0) aimed at making India financially independent; and thePradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan package aimed at protecting the lives of the marginalsed andtax relief measures.
Banks play a vital role in an economy across business cycles. The pandemic was swiftand far reaching in its impact however policy responses by Governments and central banksacross the globe were instrumental in cushioning the pandemic. Fiscal spending capitaland debt infusion easing of liquidity and administration of stimulus packages werebrought about substantial changes rapidly and efficiently. Banks were at the front foot ofadapting to social change by refocusing and reallocating their capital providingtransparency enhancing their risk management framework and improving their reportingstandards.
The banking industry accelerated their digital transformation as a response to thepandemic. With contactless payments online ecommerce and digitisation of sales andservices accelerating the Government of India through RBI and its policies andguidelines as well as the entire public and private banking system went through numerouschanges to adapt and serve the changing needs of the people during these testing times.
Some of the key adaptations are:
Quick adoption of contactless technologies and digital front end experiences forcustomers.
Virtualisation of workforces by enabling remote working for many employees.
Showing corporate responsibility by prioritizing safety of employees and customerswhile serving their needs with agility.
Transmitting and executing on Government initiatives and stimulus programs broughtabout to mitigate the financial distress brought about by the pandemic.
At South Indian Bank we did move along with the banking industry during this previousyear. Banks focus in the digital advancement during the coming years inter-aliaincludes the strengthening of data analytics infrastructure cloud adoption improvingloan management systems enriching self-service features digital on boarding of customerassets and liabilities and Artificial Intelligence led customer experiences. The cultureof "digital" is penetrating the DNA of each of our employees and customerpoints.
South Indian Bank had a good year in terms of performance. Our deposits retaildeposits and CASA grew while our advances declined. This was a conscious decision by theBank as we want to grow by strengthening the quality of our loan book. Net InterestIncome and non-Interest Income grew; however our operating profits went down by 1.69% dueto an increase in our operating expenses and loan loss provisions. While our short-termfinancials have been impacted due to asset quality concerns we are confident that ourlong-term prospects will only improve and the structural measures that we are now takingwill lead to consistent quality growth and sustainable profits for the Bank in the yearsto come. The Bank has reported the highest ever CASA ratio (Current Account SavingsAccount Ratio) with an absolute addition of INR 3830 crores in FY 2021. Our multiplecampaigns focused drive especially for non-residents and robust review processes helpedin achieving this commendable milestone for the Bank. The Bank has been successful inwidening its network across India with 935 banking outlets (884 Branches 45 ExtensionCounters 3 Satellite Branches and 3 Ultra Small Branches) and 1315 ATMs/CRMs. The Bankhad opened 8 new outlets (6 full time & 2 part time) closed and merged 8 bankingoutlets with nearby branches. Also opened 31 ATMs/CRMs across the country during thefinancial year 2020-21 and closed 140 non-viable ATMs. The branch network now covers 26States and 4 Union Territories.
Our brand loyalty and market value have been strengthened further by our legacycustomer base young workforce expanding branch network and rapidly growing digitalplatforms. Our employees are young and professionals enthused and trained to adapt to thechanging landscape of the banking industry as it continues its digital transformation. Aswe have completed 92 years of trust of the stakeholders we are inspired to continue tobuild and maintain this trust which is the driving force behind sustenance growth andambition.
I would like to express my gratitude to our shareholders vendors customers for theircontinued support and trust and employees for their tireless efforts and hard work towardsachieving our goals. I hope that better times are ahead for all of civilization as wenavigate our way out of this pandemic.
I am grateful for the RBIs guidance and support to the banks during the tougheconomic times and to our Board for their leadership and contributions during theseextraordinary times. We continually strive towards our vision of becoming the mostpreferred Bank in the areas of customer service stakeholder value and corporategovernance.
Looking back on blissful momentsgives us comfort and looking forward to a new seasonbrings us growth. Every success anecdote is tale of strong rudiments continuous effort ofadaption and response to changes. Our human and pecuniary capital base robust growthaspects wider network new business strategy and leadership in technology position us toleverage the growth opportunities across the economy. I look forward to your continuedsupport in this journey. With the continued support and patronage of all I am confidentthat our Bank will reach greater heights during the coming years. Thank you all forstanding solidly together with us during these troubled times.