Monday, 30th October 2017

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Co-op bank growth drive

Co-operative banks in Bengal have lent Rs 36,000 crore in the last 5 years: Amit Mitra

By A Staff Reporter in Calcutta
  • Published 28.12.19, 2:03 AM
  • Updated 28.12.19, 2:03 AM
  • a min read
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Amit Mitra in Calcutta on Friday. (Picture sourced by The Telegraph)

Co-operative banks in Bengal have the headroom to lend more on account of their low non-performing assets, and state finance minister Amit Mitra urged the banks on Friday to extend their services further in the rural areas.

At the inauguration of Samabay Mela here on Friday, Mitra said co-operative banks in the state have lent Rs 36,000 crore in the last five years.

“There is negligible NPA. Small borrowers have a tendency to repay on time,” Mitra said, adding that there was a need to deepen the co-operative sector in the state.

Data from the State Level Bankers’ Committee show that for the quarter ended June, the two state co-operative banks — West Bengal State Co-operative Bank and West Bengal State Co-operative Agriculture & Rural Development Bank — have together lent Rs 1923.39 crore, achieving 29.03 per cent of the Rs 6,624.71-crore target set under the annual credit plan of 2019-20 for the priority and non-priority sector. This is more than the 25.15 per cent achieved by the public sector banks in the same period.

Mitra further said the state government was providing space inside panchayat offices so that banks can set up branches in a bid to bring unbanked areas under the institutional credit network.

He said under the Krishak Bondhu scheme, a farmers’ welfare programme, the state has disbursed Rs 601 crore in 2018 and Rs 430 crore so far this year.

“A financial assistance of Rs 180 crore has been provided to 1 lakh members of self-help groups for goat and poultry farming. We are also opening customer service points in 2,631 co-operative societies to reach remote villages. Farm machinery hubs are also being set up in 1,000 co-operative societies to enhance farm income and reduce the cost of cultivation,” said Arup Roy, the state minister for the department of co-operation of the Bengal government.

The customer service points will also facilitate RTGS and NEFT payments where banking facilities are lacking.

At present, around 36,000 co-operative societies covering more than 80 lakh members are working in the state. These co-operatives and self-help groups are also facilitating the procurement of paddy under the minimum support price directly to prevent distress sale by farmers.