The Centre is planning to set up an exclusive bank to finance women self help groups (SHGs) across the country, Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said on Saturday.
"We have a proposal to set up such a bank but that will take some more time," Ramesh told a press conference even as he promised all support to Andhra Pradesh Government's plan to start a bank exclusively for financing women SHGs.
"We will support AP's proposal not just morally and politically but also financially," he said.
The 2.5 million women SHGs in the country were getting loans to the tune of Rs 15,000 crore from commercial banks annually of which over Rs 7,000 crore was being distributed in AP alone. This year the AP government has set a target of disbursing Rs 9,000 crore as loan to the SHGs at three per cent interest rate.
Meanwhile, chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy requested the Union minister to see that the interest rate on loans to women SHGs was further brought down from the current 12-13%.
"In AP, we are extending loans to SHGs at three per cent interest rate with the state government subsidising the balance interest component. It will be very helpful if the bank interest rate is brought down so that loans can be given to women at a much lesser rate," said Reddy.
Ramesh said a sum of Rs 240 crore would be spent in AP in the next five years under the Mahila Kisan Swasakthikaran Yojana to promote non-pesticide agriculture.
"Currently, 10% of the total cropped area in the state is non-pesticide which we plan to increase to 20% in five years. Currently, AP accounts for 40% of the total pesticide use in the country," the minister said.