The Telegraph
Saturday , November 17 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Naveen asks banks to extend rural network

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 16: Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik has urged banks to expand their network in the state, especially in areas where their numbers are few.

“While 59 per cent households at the national level avail themselves of banking services, the proportion in Odisha is only 45 per cent. It is absolutely critical that a robust backbone of the banking infrastructure is created in areas with few banks as soon as possible,” said Naveen while addressing the State-Level Bankers’ Committee meeting here yesterday.

“We should endeavour to set up at least one brick and mortar branch (low-cost simple structures consisting of minimum infrastructure for operating small transactions) in each of the panchayats of the state within the next 12 to 18 months,” he said, adding that banks needed to treat the financial inclusion as part of their core business and not as mere charities or corporate social responsibility.

The Reserve Bank’s deputy governor, H.R. Khan, who was present at the meeting, said the RBI had advised banks to focus more on opening brick and mortar branches at villages.

Khan, while speaking at a launch function of the electronic funds management system for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in Odisha, said at least 10 per cent of the ATMs in the state should be situated in rural areas so that people can access banking facilities.

Stressing the need for expansion of the banking network, finance minister Prasanna Acharya said a few districts of the state did not have branches of commercial banks.

According to official statistics, Odisha had 2,817 commercial bank branches in 2009-10, which catered to three municipal corporations, 98 urban bodies and 300-odd blocks. Considering that Odisha has a population of over four crore, the number of branches are inadequate.

Naveen also voiced concern over the low credit flow in Odisha. “It is disheartening that though the overall credit deposit ratio of all the banks is around 76 per cent in the state, the ratio is below 40 per cent in quite a few districts. The credit deposit ratio of many public sector banks in the rural and semi-urban areas is also below 50 per cent,” he said.

He added: “Lending by the banks in many districts has not achieved even 60 per cent of the target.”

Stressing the imbalance between the share of commercial banks and cooperative banks in agricultural credit in Odisha, Naveen said that at the all-India level, commercial banks provided 70 per cent crop loans during 2011-12, while their share in Odisha was just about 30 per cent.