Likely job, salary cuts to have relatively low impact on SBI: Rajnish Kumar

SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar assured shareholders that the likely job cuts and salary reductions in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic will leave a 'relatively low level' of stress on the bank as the proportion of business from government and the quasi-government sector is high.

In a letter to the bank's shareholders, Kumar exuded confidence that despite economic headwinds, the robust performance achieved by the country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) in 2019-20 will continue in the current financial year.

"Despite the economic headwinds, the Bank is well prepared to adjust to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. I am more than hopeful that the robust performance achieved in FY20 will continue in FY21 as well," the SBI chairman said.

Observing that the full impact of Covid-19 outbreak will be felt in the current financial year, Kumar said from the bank's point of view, the true impact of Covid-19 pandemic must also consider the behavioral impact on bank's customers, and composition of the portfolio, among others.

"For instance, likely job cuts and salary reductions will have a relatively low level of stress on account of higher proportion of Govt/ Quasi Govt. sector customers," he said in the letter, as per SBI's annual report.

"As of now, only 21.8 per cent of the customers have availed the benefit of moratorium. Furthermore, the Bank was able to achieve 98 per cent branch operability as well as 91 per cent alternate channel operability during the period of lockdown," Kumar added.
Nevertheless, an elaborate Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is in place to manage disruptions, he said.

SBI has traditionally been the banker of choice to the Government of India (GOI) and is an accredited banker to major Central Government Ministries and Departments, the annual report said.

It said SBI is contributing significantly towards e-governance initiatives taken by the GOI, and is instrumental in the development of e-solutions for both Central and state governments.

"This has facilitated their transition to the online mode, providing greater efficiency and transparency, resulting in ease of doing business and relaxation of living for the citizens," it said.

SBI's total government business turnover was Rs 52,62,643 crore during fiscal 2019-20.

The bank registered its highest ever yearly net profit in 2019-20 at Rs 14,488 crore. The net profit was Rs 862 crore during 2018-19.

Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, the outlook of the global economy has become very uncertain and the world is likely to experience a deep-rooted recession next year, Kumar said.

The RBI expects a contraction in the Indian economy during the current financial year.

Kumar also said that the pandemic has changed the preference of customers and it is a big opportunity for the bank as there is now more acceptability to adopt digital channels for doing banking transactions.

He said the bank will further scale up YONO (all-encompassing digital platform) and has set a target of doubling user registrations in the next six months, and further strengthen platform through new product offerings like end-to-end home loans, pre-approved car loan and personal gold loans.

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