Providing a rationale for re-introducing penalty for non-maintenance of minimum balance in its savings accounts from April 1, State Bank of India chief Arundhati Bhattacharya on Wednesday said the public sector lender needs funds to balance the oeprational costs of Jan Dhan accounts.
"Now there is a burden of a lot of things. We have 11 crore financial inclusion accounts - basic savings and Jan Dhan accounts - and have to manage them as well," Bhattacharya said on the sidelines of a women entrepreneurs' national convention here.
"SBI was the only bank that didn't have this as we have removed it in 2012," she said.
This condition of maintaining minimum balance will not be applicable to the Jan Dhan accounts, she added.
According to reports, the government has asked SBI to reconsider its decision to levy the penalty, though Bhattacharya said that the bank has not received any formal request on this.
She also said that SBI's requirement for minimum balance is lowest among all banks.
The SBI has made it mandatory for savings accounts in metropolitan areas to maintain a minimum balance of Rs 5,000, Rs 3,000 in urban areas, Rs 2,000 in semi-urban areas and Rs 1,000 in rural areas, from April 1.
These charges will be based on the difference between the minimum balance required and the shortfall. For metropolitan areas, if the shortfall is greater than 75 per cent. the charges would be Rs 100 plus service tax.
If the shortfall is between 50-75 per cent, the bank would charge Rs 75 plus service tax and for below 50 per cent shortfall, a fee of Rs 50 plus service tax would be levied, according to the SBI notification of new charges.
Similarly, for rural areas, the penalty for non-maintenance of minimum balance ranges from Rs 20-50 plus service tax.
A number of private sector banks already have the condition for maintenance of minimum balance.
ICICI Bank savings accounts need to have a minimum balance of Rs 10,000 in urban and metropolitan areas and Rs 5,000 in semi-urban areas.
In an HDFC savings account, the user needs to have a minimum balance of Rs 10,000 in urban and metropolitan areas, Rs 5,000 in semi-urban areas and Rs 2,500 in rural areas.
Axis Bank also has the condition of maintaining a minimum balance of Rs 10,000 in its savings accounts.