Union Minister dissatified with bank role in N E

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Guwahati, Oct 10 (UNI) Union Minister for Rural Development Dr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has pulled up the banks in Northeast for failing to discharge their social responsibilities towards the poor in several cases.

After reviewing the implementation and process of the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY) with Rural Development Ministers of the Northeast here yesterday, Dr Singh said the banking sector has much to be desired in its lending to the poorer section of society, without which the SGSY cannot be a success.

He informed that there are 118 blocks in the region without a single bank branch. The highest are in Arunachal Pradesh, where 41 blocks do not have bank branches, followed by Manipur with 26 blocks, Nagaland - 21 blocks, Sikkim - 15 blocks, Tripura-10 blocks, two blocks each in Mizram and Meghalaya and one block in Assam.

The Minister also highlighted that, while the National Density of Population per bank branch was 15,000, in the Northeast, every 22,000 Population had a single branch.

He said, '' I will take up the matter with the Finance ministry and Reserve Bank of India. They have to do something about it.'' Dr Singh also informed that there are 149 branches with zero-lending records in Assam alone. He said, '' Banks cannot get away without lending to the poor people. Recovery percentage from the poor population was up to 98 per cent.'' He emphasised that the presence of bank and their active participation is essential for the success of SGSY, which aimed at providing self-employment through Self Help Groups (SHGs).

The fund sharing ratio for the scheme between the Centre and state was 75:25. The budget allocation for 2007-08 is Rs 1800 crore, of which 15 per cent can be used for Special projects.

The Central allocation to the eight Northeastern states during 2006-07 was Rs 102 crore and during 2007-08, Rs 180 crore.

Altogether 69.05 per cent of the funds available were utilised during 2006-07 and 20.28 per cent has been used in this fiscal so far.

Dr Singh said he had asked the state governments to construct marketing facilities of SHG products at all capitals and district headquarters.

Construction work of such outlet facilities will start in New Delhi from November, he added.

He maintained that the village artisans produced export quality products but lack of marketing was proving detrimental for them.

UNI

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