Indian Bank accords priority for the development of small and medium enterprises (SME) in the country and encourages new entrepreneurs to start small and medium scale units, said Anup Sankar Bhattacharya, Executive Director of the bank, here on Friday.

Talking to The Hindu after inaugurating the SME branch of the Indian Bank at TREC-STEP campus at Thuvakudi near here, the 21st in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Bhattacharya said the bank had advanced Rs. 6,992 crore for small and medium enterprises in the country of which a lion’s share of Rs. 3,401 crore provided in Tamil Nadu. The bank had proposed to advance Rs. 7,341 crore for SMEs in the country including Rs. 4,500 crore in Tamil Nadu by March next year.

Mr. Bhattacharya said the bank had recently received the Tamil Nadu State award for meritorious service in SME sector.

Answering a question, the Executive Director said the credit deposit ratio of the bank was about 70 per cent.

Mr. Bhattacharya said the Indian Bank was a pioneer in rural lending and pointed out that the bank had been providing financial assistance to the SHGs and received the Manimegalai Award of the State government for providing revolving fund to large number of SHGs. The bank’s loan recovery rate from the SHGs was remarkable at 98.5 per cent, the highest in the banking industry, he said.

The bank has opened 802 ATMs so far in the country including 36 in the Tiruchi region in Tamil Nadu. The bank is also planning more technological upgradation in the near future.

Later, he inaugurated the ATM centre at the Indian Bank branch at Tiruverambur. R. Ravi, General Manager/Circle Head, Indian Bank, Tiruchi, explained the growth of the bank in the region.