More than 2 crore zero balance savings bank accounts have been opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana since the government announced its demonetisation move on November 8.
The finance ministry has asked public sector banks once again to focus on opening these no-frill accounts to ensure that unorganised sector workers, including daily wage earners, have access to the formal banking channel, a move that will push the government’s agenda of digital economy.
“Lakhs of savings bank accounts have been opened since November and we must focus on bringing all those working in the small and medium enterprises or otherwise as labourers into the formal banking channel,” economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das told HT.
The number of Jan Dhan bank accounts in August stood at over 23 crore while in November it surged to 25.68 crore. At present, there are 27.31 crore accounts .
The withdrawal of currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs1,000 in November had led to an acute shortage of cash. Though the cash supply is near-normal, there are many daily wage earners who are still outside the banking net.
The Centre, meanwhile, has underlined the need to adopt electronic payment modes or cheques to pay wages.
“There is need to encourage electronic or cheque payments for daily wage labourers and others...we need to move to an environment where usage of cash is limited,” Das added. While the banks will undertake the exercise to open more bank accounts, lakhs of the existing ones are under the scanner of the tax department. Many Jan Dhan accounts have been used by surrogate account holders to convert black money into white.