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FM asks banks to achieve the target of providing banking, financial services to all by 2011

By Abdul Nisar

New Delhi, Sep 7 (ANI): Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday asked all the banks to over perform to achieve their targets so that by 2011, all habitations of 2000 population and above get the facility of a bank and related financial services.

Mukherjee said that he expected the banks to achieve this a year in advance through their better performance.

Earlier this target was fixed for March 2012.

"What we are concerned today is that our growth has to be inclusive for our continued existence and prosperity. Our higher growth will have little meaning if our poor and excluded people do not have access to basic needs based on equitable, sustainable as well as just and fair share of this national prosperity," said Mukherjee.

"Financial inclusion will enable all of us to broaden our base by empowering the poor by assisting them to improve their standard of life," he added, while addressing the august gathering of bankers, officials and customers on the occasion of 105th Foundation Day Celebrations of Bank of India here today.

Mukherjee asked the banks to use latest technology, as scalable financial inclusion cannot happen without stable and reliable information and communication technology and appropriate outreach of our banks.

"We are fully aware of the major barriers for poor to access appropriate financial services such as lack of education, low and irregular income, mandatory requirements of documentation and product design factor. Promoting technological and institutional innovation as a means to expand financial system access and usage, including addressing infrastructure weaknesses could provide an answer to the above barriers," said Mukherjee.

"Today there is no dearth of technology and its transformational role cannot be over-emphasised. Scalable financial inclusion cannot happen without stable and reliable information and Communication Technology and appropriate outreach of our banks," he added.

On the occasion, Mukherjee expressed his delight saying the bank is opening its new branch office in Oriental Building, Fort, Mumbai from where the bank had began its journey 104 years ago with a modest capital of Rs.50 lakh and a staff of 50 only.

"In course of its journey, it had weathered many crises, capitalized many opportunities and has emerged stronger financially and as an important partner in our country's progress," said Mukherjee.

"Today, Bank of India is one of the largest Indian Banks with a business mix of over Rs. 410,000 crore, serving the banking needs of over 37 Million customers through its 3250 Domestic branches and 29 Foreign offices," he added.

Mukherjee further said that over more than a century of its business, the bank has served large and small industry, trade and commerce in ample measure, achieved priority sector targets and now they are gearing up to meet the challenges of financial inclusion to extend the financial services to the excluded population living in remote areas and in poverty.

"Like other banks, Bank of India has also participated in our endeavour to promote financial inclusion with measures like 'No Frill accounts', 'easier account opening', 'KYC Procedure', 'adoption of district for 100% financial inclusion', 'use of civil society network like NGOs for providing micro financial and banking services', 'setting up of counselor centers in districts'," said Mukherjee.

"With over 60 percent of the branches being located in rural and semi-urban areas and lead bank responsibility in 48 districts in five states, Bank of India can be one of the catalysts of growth in the rural sector it serves. The bank has also launched several initiatives involving credit as well as non-credit inputs like infrastructure development, schools, medical facilities, veterinary facilities, rural marketing infrastructures etc," he added.

Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena, Secretary Department of Financial Services S R. Gopalan and Chairman-cum-Managing Director Bank of India Alok Kumar Mishra also spoke on this occasion. (ANI)

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