‘We will open ultra small branches in 3,500 villages in the country’

The Central Bank is in an expansion mode in Andhra Pradesh and the number of branches in the State will go up from the present 174 to 200 by the end of the financial year, according to bank Chairman and Managing Director Mohan V. Tanksale.

Addressing the media here on Friday he said one more regional office may be opened in the State in the next financial year in addition to the existing three in Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, and Vijayawada. Earlier in the day, he opened an ultra small branch at Kandarada near Pithapuram in East Godavari district.

"Our bank has been allotted 3,750 villages in the country and we will open such branches by appointing business correspondents. Zero balance accounts will be opened and each household will be covered in the village. Each such branch will be attached to a bigger branch in the vicinity and the manager of the bigger branch will visit the ultra small branch once a week and monitor its functioning. Our bank will participate actively in the financial inclusion programme," he said.

Referring to the banking scenario in the country, he said there may be some improvement in the next quarter and the inflation may ease and that there may also be rate cut.

"We have already reduced interest rates to an extent. The situation may improve. On the whole, the Indian banking sector has shown great resilience on many occasions in the recent past. There may be ups and downs, but we have survived them all," he said.

He said the public sector banks in the country were performing well in the country and they were able to hold their own against the private sector banks. "In the key areas of technology adaptation and customer service, the public sector banks are competing well with the private ones. In any event, in a vast country like India, there is room for both," he said.

In response to a question, he said consolidation in the banking sector was desirable and more mergers and acquisitions should happen to create big banks in the country to compete on a global scale. However, it was not happening for various reasons. When two banks come together, he said, there should be technology convergence and there should be merger of organisational cultures - two objectives which were difficult to achieve, but by no means impossible.

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