Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said no jobs would be lost following the proposed merger of 10 public sector banks that was announced two days back, PTI reported.

“Absolutely ill informed,” she told reporters in Chennai when asked about the opposition of bank employees’ unions to the merger plan. “I want to assure every union in every one of these banks to please recall what I have said last Friday. When we spoke about amalgamation of banks I have very clearly underlined the fact that there shall not be one employee removed.”

The All India Bank Employees Union, and the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, which is the labour wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, have criticised the bank consolidation plan, saying it was done without any study and would protect the interests of corporate groups, Hindustan Times reported.

Sitharaman, who was in Chennai to address officers of the customs, goods and services tax and income Tax departments, said no bank would be closed. “More capital is being given to banks and they will continue to do more of what they were doing earlier,” she added.

On Friday, the finance minister had announced the mergers and the recapitalisation plan. Finance Secretary Rajiv Kumar had then announced that there would be no retrenchment in any of the banks. “Rather employee benefits and human resource conditions will improve,” he had added. “Best practices will be followed. We will especially ensure that no employee is negatively affected because of this.”

Meanwhile, Sitharaman refused to react to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement blaming “all-round mismanagement” by the Narendra Modi government for the economic slowdown. Singh urged the government to “put aside vendetta politics” and consult with “all sane voices and thinking minds” to save the economy.

“Has he said that?” Hindustan Times quoted Nirmala Sitharaman as saying. “All right, thank you, I will take his statement on it. That is my answer.”

Data released on Friday showed that India’s economic growth rate had slipped to 5% in the April-June quarter, the lowest in over six years. On August 23, Sitharaman had announced a set of measures to prop up the economy, less than two months after presenting the Union Budget. The Reserve Bank of India also announced that it would give the Centre Rs 1.76 lakh crore of its dividend and surplus reserves.

In the last few months, core sectors such as automobiles and manufacturing have witnessed a progressive slowdown in growth due to weakened consumer demand and dearth of investments. Chief Economic Adviser KV Subramanian on Friday attributed the slowdown to domestic and global factors. He added that the government was taking steps to improve the situation.

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