Bengal mulls shift from ‘unwilling’ banks
The Bengal government is contemplating to shift its accounts from some private and public sector undertaking banks as it has been observed that many of them are not participating in the government’s flagship welfare programmes.
In a message to district magistrates, chief secretary H. K. Dwivedi has conveyed that most private banks were not participating in schemes such as student credit card, financing self help groups and issuing kisan credit cards and some public sector banks were reluctant to engage with the student credit card scheme.
“In the circumstances, the state government is contemplating to shift all the accounts of its different departments, corporations etc held with all private banks and few PSU banks, which are not wholeheartedly supporting the afore-stated flagship programmes, to those banks from whom the requisite support is readily available. FS (finance secretary) is requested to kindly prepare a list of such non-participating banks,” the chief secretary wrote.
The message is significant as over three crore people have visited the recently concluded Duare Sarkar camps to register under welfare schemes wherein the government transfers money to bank accounts of beneficiaries. “If the government does not get support of banks, it is not possible to deliver timely benefits,” said an official.
Sources said Dwivedi was trying to ensure that chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s pet project, the student credit card, can roll out smoothly. Under it, all students from Class XI onwards can get collateral-free loan up to Rs 10 lakh for education.
“The KCC and loans to SHGs are not a big headache as all PSU banks are supporting them. But students’ credit cards scheme is being refused by both private and PSU banks,” said a senior official.
Sources said most banks feared rolling out the students’ credit card scheme as it covers all categories of students and there is no guarantor. “Banks are not sure if they can recover loans from all. It would have been more apt if the government had restricted it (the scheme) to certain categories, particularly students of technical subjects,” said a source.
State government departments, district magistrates and various government agencies keep crores in the accounts of private and public banks before the money is utilised.
For example, the earnest (or guarantee) money deposited by contractors for carrying out government projects are deposited in some private banks.
“At least a few crores are deposited under this head every day. Similarly, funds for centrally sponsored schemes are kept in bank accounts before they are utilised. Moreover, district magistrates often keep unutilised funds with banks,” said a source.