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Asim seeks raise in loan limits

Calcutta, Dec. 9: A cash-strapped government today urged Reserve Bank of India governor Bimal Jalan to raise the amount of loans released by nationalised banks against deposits made by people of the state.

Jalan met chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and finance minister Asim Dasgupta at Writers’ Buildings this morning. “The talks were satisfactory and we discussed small-scale sector, unemployment, agriculture and self-employment,” the RBI chief said.

He added that the credit-deposit ratio in small savings was low in the state and that a balance should be targeted.

Dasgupta later said Bengal required Rs 10,000 crore as agriculture loan from the banks. “But we have received only Rs 863 crore and a major portion of it came not from the nationalised banks but the cooperative banks.”

The finance minister said the people of Bengal have deposited more than Rs 77,000 crore in different banks but have only received loans to the tune of 55 per cent of their deposits. “There are many states who have received about 62 per cent. We have asked the RBI governor to look into the matter,” said Dasgupta.

However, the finance minister, too, was happy with the talks. A meeting of bankers will be convened by the government next year, Dasgupta said. The finance minister added that the state-level bankers’ committee will be urged to forward loans in all the growing sectors of economy.

The government also told the RBI governor that there were pending loan applications for self-employment of more than 300,000 youths. “All the projects have been deposited with the banks and yet they are not releasing the funds,” Dasgupta alleged.

Women’s self-help groups, comprising over 50,000 individuals, are also waiting for the banks to release loans against deposits that they have already made, the finance minister said.

Asked about the repayment of loans already provided by the banks, Dasgupta said it was their responsibility to recover the money and the government could only offer help.

Dasgupta also said the government has formed a committee along with the Food Corporation of India and the State Bank of India to sort out complications over a loan the bank had provided to the FCI.

The loan was meant for the state’s statutory rationing system but the FCI had spent the money on other heads, complicating matters, Dasgupta said.

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