NRB directs BFIs to ensure basic banking services

Kathmandu, March 25

The Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) today directed banks and financial institutions (BFIs) to provide basic services to public during the lockdown period.

Dev Kumar Dhakal, executive director of NRB, informed that BFIs have been directed to coordinate with the local governments and ensure that public can easily withdraw their deposits.

As a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the government has imposed a nationwide lockdown effective from Tuesday, initially for a week. However, government officials have been saying that the lockdown period is likely to be extended by at least one more week. Amid the lockdown, all services, except essential services, have been shut across the country.

“As the public would need cash during such a situation, BFIs have been asked to provide basic services to customers as far as possible,” informed Dhakal.

The central bank has also directed BFIs to effectively disseminate information to the public regarding which branches are operating and the nature of services they are providing. Similarly, every branch of the banks is required to publish a notice in front of its gate with detailed information regarding branches that are operating and providing services.

BFIs have also been directed to manage cheque clearance facility at customs and facilitate traders importing essential goods from different customs points.

BFIs have also been asked to ensure the availability of cash across all ATM booths and ensure that ATMs across the country are open and functioning properly.

Meanwhile, Nepal Bankers’ Association (NBA) — the umbrella organisation representing 27 commercial banks in the country — has said that banks will ensure availability of banking services as far as possible amid the lockdown.

The NBA meeting held today morning decided to provide banking services to the public through dedicated branches of different banks in different places.

Issuing a press statement, NBA said that all ATMs of all banks will remain open and ensure availability of cash. Similarly, the statement also reads that branches of banks that do not have ATMs will remain open for a certain period every day and cater basic banking services to people.

“Banks will also give services, including letter of credit (LC) and treasury, amid the lockdown period.

Banks will also continue their services to traders for import of essential goods,” reads the NBA press statement.

Meanwhile, NBA has also requested public to use digital banking as far as possible and urged the government to ensure the availability of health kits for staffers of banks that are providing services to the public.