Social media posts claiming that the government will privatise all public sector banks except for the State Bank of India (SBI), are misleading as they are based on an inaccurately headlined Zee News article.
On July 13, 2022 Zee News published an article titled 'Bank Privatization: SBI को छोड़ सभी सरकारी बैंक होंगे प्राइवेट! जानिए लेटेस्ट अपडे' (Bank Privitization: Except SBI, all government banks will be privatised, know the latest updates).
However, the headline is misleading as the article cites a policy paper released by economists Poonam Gupta and Arvind Panagariya postulating this move of privatising all banks except SBI as a proposal on a policy forum.
Zee News makes no mention of the paper in the headline.
Furthermore, the recommendation has not been implemented or been taken up by the government yet.
As of now, the government publicly maintains that is looking to privatise only two public sector banks, as announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Union Budget speech in 2021.
The claim can be seen below. In the first comment, the author of this post has the link to the Zee News story in question.
The claim has been made several times on social media.
The government has not made any statement about privatising all banks except SBI. Publicly, it maintains that it is to privatise two public sector banks.
In February this year, the Ministry of Finance told Lok Sabha that it had not even finalised the candidates for privatisation due to legislative roadblocks.
"As per inputs received from Department of Investment and Public Assets Management (DIPAM), Government has not yet decided on the banks that are to be privatised. The amendments to the relevant Acts are required to be done before initiating the process of privatisation", it told Parliament.
The information that the claims is postulating as true rests on a policy paper co-authored by Arvind Panagariya, a former Vice-Chairman of the Niti Aayog and a professor at Columbia University, and Poonam Gupta, the Director-General of the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER).
The NCAER is a non-profit economic think-tank, and this paper was part of the India Policy Forum 2022 - and academic conference - organised by it on July 13 and 14.
In the paper, Gupta and Panagariya argue that all banks except SBI should eventually be transferred out of government ownership.
"In this paper, we have made the case for privatization of PSBs. Due to its better performance and adhering to the development view of the PSBs, we propose that the State Bank of India (SBI) may remain under government ownership for now, but all other banks should be privatized", the abstract of the paper says, owing to the underperformance of public sector banks.
The paper can be read here.
Several other news outlets have also reported on this proposal by Gupta and Panagariya. However, in their headline, they have correctly attributed this suggestion as simply a policy proposal.
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