KATHMANDU, Aug 19: Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has instructed bank and financial institutions (BFIs) to provide minimum banking services during the lockdown imposed by local administrations.
Issuing a notice on Wednesday, the NRB asked BFIs to provide minimum banking services during the lockdown period for the continuity of basic banking operation complying with prohibitory orders issued by local administrations.
The notice of the central bank comes in the wake of prohibitory orders and lockdowns imposed by local administrations in various parts of the country including in the Kathmandu Valley. Chief district officers of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur have already issued prohibitory orders that seek to ban almost all services and businesses in Kathmandu Valley from Wednesday midnight for a week except for essential purposes.
The prohibitory orders aimed at containing the risk of further spread of COVID-19 cases that have surged in recent days. While banking service is listed as an essential, the central bank has urged BFIs to provide minimum banking service from their branches and promote digital transactions due to the risk of infection.
Ensuring availability of transactions through digital channels, the central bank has asked BFIs to inform their clients to opt from digital banking to the extent possible. The NRB has also directed BFIs to ensure enough ATM replenishment and arrange regular monitoring of the availability of cash in the vending machines.
Similarly, BFIs have also been told to make arrangements to operate draft, TT, letter of credit and bank guarantee services to ensure the supply of essential goods. NRB also instructed BFIs to open a minimum number of branches with minimum staff on a rotational basis in collaboration with local administrations to provide basic banking services like cash deposit, bank transfer and check clearance.
In line with the notice of the NRB on August 10, BFIs have made an arrangement to call their staff at work on a rotational basis. Similarly, the NBA—the umbrella organization of 27 commercial banks—has also urged the public to avoid visiting bank branches except for urgent cases and use digital banking services.
BFIs will have to update the details of branches that will be opened in their websites along with the phone number of contact persons, according to the NRB notice. They will also have to paste a notice in the main door of the closed branch with details of the alternative branches that will remain open.