Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday called upon banks to redouble their efforts to make Tamil Nadu the number one State in financial inclusion.

Quoting a National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) study, she said in terms of the inter-state comparison of financial inclusion, Tamil Nadu ranked seventh in the country on the financial inclusion index. In a situation that did not offer economic warranty or guarantee, a strong elastic financial system was the matrix on which income-generating programmes had to be anchored.

She was addressing a function to mark the conclusion of platinum jubilee celebration of Indian Overseas Bank here.

Commending IOB for the way it responded to her offer made in December to open 1,000 branch in the State, Ms. Jayalalithaa asked: “May I now offer another challenge to Indian Overseas Bank? As the Convener of the State Level Bankers Committee for Tamil Nadu, I really hope that Indian Overseas Bank will continue its good work and inspire other banks to ensure that every village in the State is provided with a banking connection and Tamil Nadu becomes the numero uno State in the country in financial inclusion.”

The Chief Minister sought the support of the banks to a host of measures and initiatives of her government. She wanted them to play a pro-active role in funding investment envisaged under the Vision 2023 document of the government, and in particular, infrastructure projects, adequately, expeditiously and efficiently.

Saying her government was giving final touches to industry-specific policies, she urged them to work in tandem with it to achieve goals of the new industrial policy.

The provision of agricultural credit (for which a target of Rs.48,584 crore has been fixed this year), implementation of the Tamil Nadu Urban Livelihood Mission, New Entrepreneur-cum-Enterprise Development Scheme and the Integrated Financial and Human Resources Management System; disbursal of pensions under the government's social security pension schemes and that of wages under the Mahatma Gandhi national Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme were some of the areas outlined by the Chief Minister for cooperation of the banks.

Ms. Jayalalithaa launched two schemes – Scholar Education Loan and Defence staff salary accounts. She commended select members of self-help groups and business correspondents.

She symbolically declared open the installation of 75 solar lamps. The Chief Minister handed over the first copy of a publication on the bank to M. Narendra, Chairman and Managing Director of IOB, who said that his bank had touched business level of Rs.3.22 lakh crore.

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