The detailed report on customer services has not yet been released despite it being ready; committee members are being kept in the dark over the progress of the report by the head, M Damodaran, who is incommunicado on this issue
The M Damodaran Committee set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to look into the improvement of bank customer services has prepared its final report. But the report is in limbo, even as the committee members are clueless about its progress. Despite the detailed report being ready, it has not yet been released for reasons best known to the committee head, M Damodaran.
Moneylife had reported earlier (RBI panel puts final report on bank customer service improvements in cold storage). On 24th March, the head of the committee and former SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) chief M Damodaran, had informed Moneylife that the report would be out in the next ten days. In response to our query, Mr Damodaran had said, "All we have just now is a draft report, or working paper. This is the first important report on customer services after the MN Goiporia report. Our committee met a lot of stakeholders and we want to make sure that their views are properly represented in the report. I am in the process of redrafting it and the report should be out in the next ten days."
It's been more than ten days and the report is not yet out. When Moneylife contacted Mr Damodaran again on the same subject, he saw red and replied, "I am not supposed to submit the report to Moneylife. I will submit it to the RBI." He even banged the phone down before Moneylife could ask him any other question.
This reply has left the issue in limbo. Even the members of the committee are clueless whether the detailed report-which is in the custody of Mr Damodaran-is the final one, or would there be any more changes made as per the panel's recommendations.
There were several meetings held between the M Damodaran Committee and various other stakeholders for their considered views on the subject. According to our sources, this detailed report is believed to have pro-consumer suggestions.
Thus, banks do not want the report to be out, as it will increase pressure on them for improving customer services.
Such an indefinite answer from Mr Damodaran over the release of the report has raised many doubts. Informed sources from the RBI have confirmed to Moneylife that no one apart from Mr Damodaran is aware of anything related to this report-and there is no one in the RBI who can provide any clarity over this issue.
The committee members are even unaware if there would be any further meetings held for discussion over this report.
Ashok Rawat, one of the members of the committee and Hon. Secretary of the All-India Bank Depositors' Association (Mumbai) had earlier confirmed to Moneylife that the report was supposed to be released in mid-February. "The Damodaran Committee will table the report on customer services by the 15th of this month. If the logistics are properly taken care of, we may even see the report being released earlier-before the 10th of this month," Mr Rawat had told Moneylife on 7th February. (See: Damodaran Committee may release final report on customer service in banks by mid-February).
Moneylife had subsequently reported on how the report, which was supposed to be released in mid-February, was not released. (Read here)
The committee is expected to undertake a strict review of the existing system of the Banking Ombudsman Scheme and attending to customer service in banks, including the approach, attitude and fair treatment to customers from the retail, small and pensioners' segments. The committee was also asked to evaluate the existing system of the grievance redressal mechanism prevalent in banks, its structure and efficacy and recommend measures for expeditious resolution of complaints.
Moneylife sincerely hopes that the report is released in the shortest possible period-for people who have been clamouring for better banking services for years now.
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