Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has reiterated the government's commitment to promotion of inclusive development to ensure that every segment of the poor, weak and the downtrodden has easy access to reasonable and cost-effective banking facilities in the shortest possible time.

Speaking after inaugurating 100 branches of Federal Bank at a function here last Saturday, Mr. Mukherjee asked bankers, as facilitators of growth, to adopt the best worldwide practices, best technology and suitable financial products to meet the capital requirements of a diverse spectrum of borrowers. Present on the occasion, among others, were Federal Bank Chairman P. C. Cyriac, and the bank's Managing Director and CEO Shyam Srinivasan.

The Finance Minister pointed out that since an effective and efficient banking system “is the backbone of a growing economy”, a major challenge would be to strike a balance between the twin objectives of increasing banking access and improving the quality of customer service and customer protection.

In this regard, Mr. Mukherjee noted that it was heartening that, as per the latest annual report of the banking ombudsman scheme, the total number of customer complaints received in 2010-11 was 11 per cent less than those received in the previous fiscal. However, it was a matter of concern that private and foreign banks which account for only 12 per cent of the loan and deposits in the country, have a share of 35 per cent in the total complaints. “This requires vigorous efforts to redress complaints,” he said.

The government, Mr. Mukherjee said, is in the process of implementing an e-payment system for direct credit of dues from the Centre to the beneficiaries of various subsidies.

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