LDF govt opposed to SBT's merger with SBI: Vijayan

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Thiruvananthapuram, June 9: Kerala government is against the merger of State Bank of Travancore with State Bank of India, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said today. This is the first political opposition to the proposed merger of SBI associate banks with the parent.

"People of state consider SBT as a bank of Kerala and the government also has the same view. We want SBT to remain as it is," Vijayan said at a meet-the-press programme here. The CPI-M-led LDF government is seriously considering putting in place a bank of Kerala by reorganising the present three-tier co-operative banks into a two-tier system.

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The state co-operative bank would then become "a big bank" with financial capacity equal to that of any scheduled bank in the state.

"We are seriously considering it," he added. Last month, SBI cleared a proposal for merger of subsidiary banks and Bharatiya Mahila Bank. It sought the government's approval for the same. The country's largest lender has five associate banks --State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Hyderabad.

Stating that the state's financial situation is critical, Vijayan, who took over as chief minister on May 25, said the government is planning a two-pronged strategy - short term and long term - for economic development of the state.

Keeping intact the State Planning Board and steps for the preparation of the 13th Five-Year Plan is an indication of the government's objective of long-term programmes, he said.

Even though the Centre decided to do away with the Planning Commission, the state government, considering the special circumstances of Kerala, has resolved to keep the State Planning Board.

Referring to the grim financial position of the state, he said that as per the latest Comptroller and Auditor General of India report, total debt stood at Rs.1.54 lakh crore. Arrears to the government contractors work out around Rs 1,230 crore, he said.

However, Vijayan added: "I am not saying that the state's future is dark." He is hopeful that the LDF government will tackle the crisis with new development initiatives and resource mobilisation. Listing the government's priorities, he singled out infrastructure such as power, transport and roads in the state that needs improvement.

PTI 

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