Kerala Cabinet on Wednesday decided to increase the availability of loans to the common man while continuing action against the ‘blade’ mafia (cut-throat money lenders).

The Cabinet decision comes in the wake of scores of complaints and suicide of a family at Kallayam near Thiruvananthapuram on being harassed by money lenders.

After the cabinet meet, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the media that a meeting of the State Level Bankers’ Committee would be convened on May 22 to plan for easing credit to the poor. The Chief Minister, Finance Minister and the Home Minister would attend the meeting. The Collectors would be asked to convene district level meetings of bankers.

The Minister for Cooperation C.N. Balakrishnan would hold meeting of State and district cooperative banks to discuss making more loans available to the common man. Steps would also be taken to speed up disbursement of loans by the Matsyafed and Kudumbasree project.

The Chief Minister said that RBI would be requested to facilitate availability more loans to the poor through financial companies coming under the Kerala Money Lenders Act and ensure that they do not charge exorbitant rates of interest. The Registration Department would be asked to strictly implement the provisions of the Act.

Mr. Chandy said that though the viability of banking has to be maintained, the banks could not avoid their social responsibility to lend to the common man without insisting on too much security. The convening of the SLBC to request banks to be lenient on recovery of educational loans had helped. They had agreed, in principle, to avoid recoveries in case of death of earning member of the family and delay in getting jobs by the student who availed the loans. However, the government still had to take up cases individually with the banks. The government had also supplemented waivers offered by the Central government.

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