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Banks told to lend to marginalised workers

Staff Reporter

Indian Bank’s branch at Kuzhipirai declared open

— Photo: M. Moorthy

Helping hand: P. Chidambaram, Union Finance Minister, giving away a cheque to a beneficiary at the inauguration of Indian Bank’s branch in Kuzhipirai in Pudukottai district on Monday. S. Regupathy, right, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests, and M. S. Sundara Rajan, Chairman and Managing Director of the Bank, look on.

PUDUKOTTAI: Union Ministry of Finance has directed public sector banks to sanction loans to economically marginalised sections in rural areas for achieving overall socio-economic development of villagers, the Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, said.

Speaking after declaring open the Indian Bank’s branch at Kuzhipirai village near here on Monday, Mr. Chidambaram said that the Union Ministry of Finance had classified rural workers such as cobblers, hair-dressers, carpenters, launderers and goldsmiths as economically marginalised persons.

With the nationalised banks accounting for over 70,000 branches across the country, it was expected that about 14 lakh of these economically marginalised persons would benefit every year. A quarterly bank-wise and branch-wise target had been fixed for covering 35,000 beneficiaries every quarter.

The number of beneficiaries would be increased during subsequent financial years.

Mr. Chidambaram appealed to the banks to sanction more loans to all eligible students to pursue the approved higher educational courses. Till last year, the commercial banks had sanctioned about Rs.20,000 crore to 12.51 lakh students. Of them, about 1.17 lakh beneficiaries got loans from Indian Bank.

On more than one occasion, the Union Minister castigated the criticism by a few opposition political parties that the public sector banks were far below their efficiency in the global scenario. In reality, he said, the public-sector banks had improved upon their competency and efficiency on par with that of international banks.

Indian Bank example

One of the best examples was the improved performance of Indian Bank which was in the red a decade ago. But thanks to the timely grant of Rs.1,000 crore, the Bank had not only come out of the red but also registered a net profit of Rs. 1,008 crore during 2007-08.

Its non-performing asset had come down from 0.35 per cent during 2006-07 to 0.24 per cent last year.

Chairman and Managing Director of Indian Bank M. S. Sundara Rajan said in his presidential address that this was the 1,546th branch with updated services including core-banking. The bank was sanctioning loans with liberalised parameters to farming and industrial sectors and student community.

Mr. R. M. Subburam, MLA from Tirumayam, said that the branch was a felt-need of residents of at least 12 villages in the periphery.

Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests S. Regupathy; Deputy General Manager, Circle Head, Tiruchi Circle, R. Ravi; Chief Managers of Indian Bank Circle Office S. Jayakumar, P. V. Ramachandran; and Kuzhipirai Branch Manager S. Venkatatasubramanian were among those who were present.

Later, Mr. Chidambaram distributed loans worth Rs 1.62 crore to 138 persons. The beneficiaries included students and farmers.

He also inaugurated ‘Farmers Club’ of Kurumpoondi village as part of village adoption programme of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Bank and financial inclusion scheme for Kuzhipirai; Sundara Cholapuram and Vadakkammapattinam.

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