Bangalore, Mar 24 (UNI) Expressing concern over a large number of people remaining outside the ambit of banking service, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram today gave a call for the financial inclusion of all sections of the society to make available the benefit of institutional finance.
Inaugurating the 501st Core Banking Solution operations of Indian Bank's M G Road branch here, he said his Ministry had constituted a committee to look into the reasons for a large section of the society remaining out of reach of banking services, besides coming out with recommendations. While only about 27 per cent of the total population had access to banking services and 22 per cent depended on non-institutional finance services, a whopping 51 per cent were not aware of banking services and its facilities, he pointed out.
Mr Chidambaram said the financial inclusion of all sections of the society, including farmers, small businessmen, entrepreneurs and tiny income group from rural, semi-urban and urban areas would go a long way in providing impetus to economic activities and economic growth. In this direction, an initiative had been started in a small way in Pondichery, which would be extended to Tamil Nadu based on its success, he added.
The Minister said the Centre gave priority to encouraging micro financing and the success of Self Helf Group (SHG) concept in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu had resulted in empowerment of the marginalised sections of the society. SHG concept was gaining ground in Orissa, Bihar and West Bengal also. The about ten lakh credit-linked SHGs operating in the country had almost doubled in the last two years, thanks to the special initiative taken by the UPA Government at the Centre.
On the occasion, Mr Chidambaram also launched two new products of Indian Bank -- 'Bharath Card', the Credit/Debit card for small income group, and 'Swarna Mudra', the sale of gold coin scheme.
Indian Bank Chairman and Managing Director Dr K C Chakrabarty, who also spoke, said the implementation of CBS aimed at providing the customers technology-aided products and services that would enrich their banking experience. Over 70 per cent of the bank's branches were under CBS network and the rest would be brought within a year.
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