Bank officers voice concern over election of shareholder directors at SBI

Thiruvananthapuram, June 18:  

The All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC) has raised concern over the recent election of shareholders’ directors to the central board of State Bank of India (SBI).

Sanjiv Malhotra, Pravin Kutumbe, Bhaskar Pramainik and Basant Seth have been elected as shareholder directors at the elections held in Mumbai on June 15.

At a disadvantage

Earlier, SBI had announced that voters who could not come in person had the opportunity to provide a proxy, authorising someone to vote on behalf of him/her.

Anyone with more than 50 shares could vote, but AIBOC said it was unfortunate that SBI charged close to Rs 13 lakh for a CD containing the voters list.

The last date for nomination was changed at the last minute thereby giving no time for campaign which puts an individual at a disadvantageous position vis-à-vis the candidates backed by corporate houses.

The All India State Bank of India Officers’ Federation (AISBOF) had fielded Amar Pal, its former president, a former general secretary of AIBOC, and a former director to the Central Board of SBI, as its candidate.

Safeguarding interests

It had requested all office-bearers to collect proxy forms from officer members and staff and others who are shareholders.

AISBOF and AIBOC took the election as a challenge and went all out to contact shareholders from all walks of life, including friends, relatives, officers our award staff with SBI shares.

The election of Amar Pal could have been instrumental to safeguard the interest of all shareholders, including employees and officers working in SBI, AIBOC said.

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Moreover, the ‘evil designs’ of authorities to deprive the workforce in participating in the bank’s functioning could well have been partially thwarted.

From its experience, AIBOC suggested to banks that voting should be done online so that it becomes a more democratic process.

Institutional investors

It is unfortunate that the Centre directs institutional investors such as LIC, which has large number of shares, to vote to their favourite candidates. When the Centre has its own nominees, it is not fair on its part to interfere in the process to get its favourites elected.

The laws need to be changed to provide for at least one shareholder director from individual shareholders, who constitute six per cent of SBI shareholders.

AIBOC said it will take up the issue with SEBI. It is clear from the results that corporate representatives have got the support of institutions and the Centre.

It also appealed the Centre to respect the laws of the land and clear the appointment of officer/employee directors pending for years.

It regretted that it does not have an officer-director or employee-director on the board of any banks. Despite its “best and continuous efforts”, the Centre is silent on the issue.

(This article was published on June 18, 2017)

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