Soon, post offices in remote areas of the country will serve as banks and offer automated teller machine (ATM) facility. The Planning Commission of India has agreed to allow the Department of Postal Services to install ATMs in post offices.
The postal department has a network of 1.44 lakh post offices across India with deposits worth Rs 5,60,000 crore.
Minister of State for Telecom Sachin Pilot said the department proposed the Post Bank scheme in an attempt to use the huge network of post offices to foster inclusive growth and ensure people in far-flung areas get benefit from the government’s welfare schemes. Post offices have 25 crore accounts apart from five crore MGNREGA workers.
The postal department has identified over 830 post offices where the ATMs will be installed. The department’s ATMs will be linked with other public sector banks too.
“Their (post office) saving account will be just like any other bank account,” a senior government official said. The department provides various financial services, including a post office savings bank, postal life insurance, pension payments and money transfer services.
The plan panel recently agreed to the department’s proposal and decided to sanction funds in the 12th five-year plan for installing ATMs in each post office. The panel had sanctioned Rs five crore in the 11th five year plan to conduct a study on the setting up Post Bank of India on lines of the ones in New Zealand and Japan.
The decision is aimed at making the post offices as an important catalyst in improving the delivery of welfare schemes, for which the Central government allocated over Rs 1,80,000 crore in the budget of 2011-12.
Already, a large number of people enrolled under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) have their accounts in post offices where their wages get credited. But the limitation of being able to access their accounts during working hours of the post offices was a cause of inconvenience.