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Bank to focus on farm advances

By Our Special Correspondent

JAIPUR, JAN. 27 . State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur plans increased deployment towards agriculture in Rajasthan considering the buoyancy in the sector after the good rains the State had during the last year's monsoon. The bank's exposure to agriculture -- which is already high at 25 per cent of its priority lending in the State -- is likely to go up, according to K.R.Srikantan, the managing director of the bank.

"After the good rains the agricultural advances, especially the tractor advances, have picked up. There is lot of farming activity taking place now. It is going to be a good year ahead,'' Mr.Srikantan predicted.

"The economy is picking up. There is an over all change in the trend. The credit sector is showing positive signs. It is with all the banks but our bank is doing better than the peer level,'' Mr.Srikantan pointed out. Credit off-take had been good in agriculture, trade, small industry and in housing besides in other personal segments, he noted.

"Infrastructure financing also is showing signs of growth. There is action in the power sector, roads, cement industry and textiles. The gem and jewellery sector also is doing well which augurs well for Rajasthan,'' Mr.Srikantan noted.

There has been impressive growth in credit for SBBJ during the past one year. Despite the softening of interest rates the net income of the bank increased to Rs.522.64 crores up to December 2003 against Rs.403.34 crores up to December 2002. For the 9 months ended on December 31, 2003, the bank recorded an all time high net profit of Rs.224.39 crores against Rs.158.60 crores during the last fiscal.

Decline in interest rates notwithstanding, the banks deposits registered an increase of 18.94 per cent during the past 9 months. From Rs.13,400 crores in March 2003, its deposits increased to Rs.14, 900 crores in December 2003. The advances too marked an almost similar growth of 18.02 per cent registering an increase from Rs.6,500 crores in March 2003 to Rs.7,600 crores in December 2003.

The bank which has computerized all its 807 branches is now focussing on providing value added services like single window facility and networked ATMs. Out of the total number of branches only five branches are loss making and two among them were opened this year only, it is being pointed out.

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