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Railways is mulling a proposal to have undercover sleuths manning railway stations and trains to check for anomalies in the services offered by the national transporter, a senior official said here today. Called, "Mystery shoppers" they will look like normal passengers but will keep a keen eye on the amenities - food, staff behaviour, and quality on trains and at stations - and rate them on their performance. This system was developed in the early 20th Century in the US and the UK by firms wanting to evaluate standards being maintained by employees. Now, it is the chosen method of big companies to rate their services from the standpoint of consumers. "This is one of the many proposals that are being currently considered by the railway board to monitor our services. The details are yet to be finalised," the official said. The "mystery shoppers" will have set parameters by which they will rate the amenities by interacting with passengers, staff members and other officials and submit a report based on their findings, the official said. The official said the board is in the process of deciding if the Quality Council-of-India can be roped into carry out the "shopping" and if NGOs and other civil society groups can also be engaged for a fee for the purpose. The identity of the mystery shopper will not be revealed at any point to field officials in order to ensure that transparency in the process is maintained, the official said. Hong Kong-based branches of Punjab National Bank and Indian Overseas Bank have been put under enhanced supervisory oversight and barred from proactively soliciting customer deposits by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority as the capital adequacy ratio of the two lenders fell below the regulatory requirements. At the end of March, 2018, total capital ratio as per the Basel- III norms declined to 9.20 percent for PNB as against 11.66 percent at the end of March 2017, according to a filing by PNB. On consolidated basis, it slipped to 9.82 percent as against 11.98 per cent during the same period. Indian Overseas Bank's (IOB) capital ratio fell to 9.25 percent by end-March 2018 against 10.50 percent in the year ago period. As per the RBI's norms, the total capital adequacy, including counter-cyclical buffer should be upwards of 11.5 percent. IOB and fraud-hit PNB in separate regulatory filings said in view of the capital position of the banks as on March 31, 2018, being below the regulatory requirement (including counter-cyclical buffer) of RBI, Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is enhancing the supervisory arrangements on their Hong Kong branches. Both the lenders said that they are required to maintain high quality liquid assets in Hong Kong equivalent to 100 percent of unpledged deposits. The two banks have been asked to "not to proactively solicit customer deposits", according to the filings. Whereas PNB's capital adequacy has fallen short of the regulatory requirement due to unprecedented loss in the fourth quarter of 2017-18, Indian Overseas Bank sits on a huge amount of bad loans in its books. The two banks said transactional deposits such as pledged deposits for commercial loans would be excluded from this supervisory arrangement. It is explained that IOBHK (Hong Kong branch of IOB) can continue to take deposits as margin for credit that is being disbursed and there is no restriction on extending credit, IOB added. Also, both the lenders will have to maintain a position of "net due to" its head office, other branches and any direct or indirect subsidiaries and associates of the banks. IOB said its Hong Kong branch operates with funds borrowed from India and hence the HKMA regulatory requirement does not alter the position of the bank.
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