Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will meet bank chiefs in Patna later this month as the government steps up efforts to spread banking services across remote districts of the country.
All the chairpersons of public sector banks are expected to attend the meeting on June 14 that would discuss a host of issues including improving penetration of banking services beyond the major centres of states. This is a significant departure from normal practice where such meetings were usually held in Delhi or in the major metropolitan cities.
Chief ministers of some of the eastern states are expected to attend the meeting that would brain storm on regulatory, administrative and technological issues besides focussing on enhancing bank credit flow to the small and marginal farmers, a finance ministry official said requesting anonymity.
The meeting, the first of its kind in Bihar, assumes significance as the state’s economy enters a high growth trajectory.
The state’s gross domestic product has grown at an average of 12.4 per cent in the last four years, the fastest among all
states. “The meeting will discuss various review parameters,” said T.M. Bhasin, chairman and managing director, Indian Bank.
The finance ministry official said the meeting would discuss a roadmap to ensure that every village with a population of more than 2,000 has a bank branch or a business correspondent — an authorised agent who can carry out banking activities on behalf of a bank. About 50 per cent of the village households peppered across the country’s 626 districts are outside the banking net.
Plans are also afoot to fully migrate to a smart card-based electronic benefit transfer (EBT) system for payment of wages to beneficiaries of the national rural employment guarantee scheme (NREGS). At present, it takes about a month for payments to reach the actual beneficiary. With EBT, payments will reach the beneficiary in a day.