December 24, 2013
All villages in the state to have banking services by 2015
West Bengal is soon going to have banking services in 839 out of 3,354 gram panchcyats in the state. Banking services are available in the rest already. Finance Minister Amit Mitra Monday said the government would bring all gram panchayats under the banking network in the next one-and-a-half years. “We have taken initiatives to set up at least one bank in each of the gram panchayats in Bengal…. Banks have agreed to come forward to make the plan successful. We hope that we can achieve the target by the next one-and-a-half years,“ he said. He also said the handicraft workers and weavers will be brought under the Kisan Credit card scheme.
The Finance Minister was hopeful of achieving the target as the state`s initiative to allot 300 to 400sqft to nationalised banks in gram panchayat offices against a monthly rent of Re 1 had got a good response. “In the past two months, the UBI has opened 50 such branches. Now, Canara Bank has come forward. We hope that another 89 branches will be ready in the next few months,“ Mr Mitra today said.
The decision to help banks set up branches in rural areas is a welcome step, as rural people end up depending on moneylenders who charge exorbitant rates of interest in the absence of a proper credit delivery system.
Mr Mitra was confident that the initiatives of the Trinamool government would result in financial inclusion of rural Bengal and give village people access to various banking facilities, which would result in growth. The finance minister said that all major banks would join the effort soon.
Mr Mitra today set another target — of achieving a credit-deposit ratio (CDR) of 70 per cent by March 2014. At today`s meeting, he also set the March 2015 target at 73 per cent, said a source familiar with the proceedings of the state level bankers` committee meeting.
The government is asking banks to increase lending through Kisan Credit Cards to self-help groups and small and medium enterprises.