First Business News Portal in English from Nepal
KATHMANDU: The rising positive cases of coronavirus among bank employees across the country has raised serious concerns over the effectiveness of the measures adopted by banks and financial institutions (BFIs) to prevent the spread of the virus. As banking services are considered essential services and directly linked to the public, this spread of the contagion among bankers has also posed a risk to the public. Till date, dozens of staffs in 12 banks across the country (10 commercial banks in Kathmandu Valley and two development banks outside the valley) have been infected with COVID-19. Employees of Rastriya Banijya Bank, Global IME Bank, Agricultural Development Bank, Mega Bank, Nabil Bank, Nepal Investment Bank, Everest Bank, Laxmi Bank, Garima Development Bank and Tinau Mission Development Bank, among others have been reported to have been infected with coronavirus. As banks and financial institutions are fully open and providing all services, thousands of service seekers who visit BFIs every day are at risk of contracting the disease. Experts and stakeholders have expressed serious concerns over the increasing cases of coronavirus among bankers. This scenario, as per experts, hints that BFIs are not properly complying with the set health standards to prevent the spread of the virus. “Cases of coronavirus in banks are serious as thousands of people visit banks every day. If BFIs do not comply with health standards properly it can result in the virus spreading among the masses,” said Janak Raj Dahal, chief district officer, Kathmandu, adding that government agencies and banks themselves should take it seriously. Moreover, the flow of people in BFIs has increased in the recent weeks with the government appealing to the public to clear tax dues. Similarly, rumorsthat another lockdown is in the offing have also raised the flow of people in banks. Gunakar Bhatta, spokesperson for Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), said that rising cases of coronavirus among bankers has worried the central bank as well. “We have time and again directed BFIs to provide services by adopting proper measures against the coronavirus. If BFIs are found compromising with health standards, NRB will take action,” he said. Meanwhile, bankers have said that banks have been giving due priority to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. “But cases of coronavirus have been detected among bankers means that we still need to be more serious,” said Anil Shah, chief executive officer of Nabil Bank. Meanwhile, he suggested the public to prioritize digital banking services over visiting banks.
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