Revive Coop banks to financial inclusion in rural India:

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New Delhi, Sep 24 (UNI) A National Conference on cooperative banks began here today with a call from Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes for reviving, strengthening and professionalising of Cooperative bank network to finance the rural India.

The cooperative credit structure, in existence for about a century and consisting of over 1,25,605 outlets purveys more than 62 per cent to total agri-rural credit. While a network of 66,573 commercial banks and 14,505 Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) along with 81,078 branches, these put together account for only 38 per cent of rural credit.

In his presidential address at the inaugural session ot the two-day conference on "Reinventing Indian Cooperative Banking Sector", Mr Farnandes said cooperative institutions had a formidable structure-- 30 State Cooperative banks with 953 branches and 368 District-level Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) with 12,858 branches carrying a network of 1,08,779 Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS).

Critically reviewing the coop banking, Mr B S Vishwanathan Chairman, Cooperative Bank of India (COBI) said the future growth of cooperative credit and banking sector depended largely on operanationalising of the COBI.

Even as the COBI fulfilled the norms stipulated by the regulating authority required for becoming a national level cooperative bank 14 years ago, still it has been denied licence by the RBI, Mr Viswanathan deplored.

He complained that most of the new generation private sector banks were licenced after COBI registered in 1993.

Implementation of Prof Vaidyanathan Task Force's recommendations, particularly in the area of recapitalisation and rehabiliation package has been slow, he said and sought autonomy for the cooperative banks.

Agriculture Finance Corporation Chairman Y S Nanda said there was need to create professionalism in coop banking network and removal of various restrictions while evolving a democratic managment of the institutions.

Agriculture Secretary P K Mishra stressed the need for improving the credit delivery as the coop banks could help increasing the inclusive growth in the rural areas.

UNI

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