Hyderabad, Dec 15 (UNI) Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram today called upon farmers and women to utilise bank loans to escape from the clutches of money-lenders.
Addressing a large number of women members of the Self Help Groups (SHGs) and farmers after launching 'AB Kisan Rakshak' and 'AB Mahila Soubhagya' (debit swapping scheme for farmers and women members of SHGs) introduced by the Andhra Bank, he said the new schemes would be helpful to repay loans taken from the money-lenders at high interest rates.
While complimenting the Andhra Bank for the venture, he said the Bank was the ''first'' in the country to introduce the scheme. It would be followed up by other banks also, he added.
Mr Chidambaram urged the nationalised banks to occupy the place of money-lenders in extending loans.
The Minister said the UPA Government at the Centre had decided in 2004 to increase the agricultural credit from Rs 86,000 crore to Rs 1,72,000 crore. All the banks had crossed the target and extended Rs 1,75,000 crore as credit to the agricultural sector.
It was decided to provide Rs 2,35,000 crore as agricultural credit in the fiscal, he added.