Staff Reporter

Idea of moneylender-free panchayats finds acceptance

Banks should lend more for farming, says Minister

District Credit Plan for 2009-10 fixed at Rs.3,259 crore

PALAKKAD: The banks in the district are considering a proposal by District Collector A.T. James for ramping up lending to lead to moneylender-free panchayats, freeing people from the debt trap laid by usurious men and ‘blade companies.’

In his presidential address at the meeting of the district-level review committee of banks here on Wednesday, the Collector said debt traps had led to many farmers and others committing suicide in the country. So, the banks should lend more for farming to help the farmers and ensure food security.

He said the loans given in the agriculture sector now were mainly gold loans which did not go into the productive sector. The advances given to the primary and the secondary sectors were not encouraging in the district when the deposits received by the banks were taken into account. The credit-deposit ratio had fallen. The Union and the State governments had taken a number of steps for the development of the agriculture sector, which the banks should support.

In his review of the District Credit Plan, S. Padmanabhan, District Development Manager, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, said the banks in the district would implement the proposal for moneylender-free panchayats as a pilot project in one or two panchayats immediately.

He said that in an agriculture-dominated district as Palakkad, only 34 per cent of the target was achieved in lending for minor irrigation, farm mechanisation, fisheries and so on. There was some discrepancy between disbursement of loans and farm output. Some soul-searching was needed on these problems.

He said new-generation banks were not attending the annual district-level consultative committee for banking development in the district. Thus, they were not getting involved in the development of the district and implementation of government schemes for key sectors.

In his keynote address, M.G. Ajayan, Assistant General Manager, Regional Office, Canara Bank, said the sluggish credit growth in the district was causing concern. The growth in priority sector credit was only 10 per cent.

The disbursements in the tertiary sector was Rs.912.71 crore against a target of Rs.1,143.99 crore, meeting only 80 per cent of the target.

D. Asainathan, Assistant General Manager, Reserve Bank of India, Thiruvanathapuram, in his review of banking statistics for the district, said the banks should help revive the sick industrial units. They should help medium and small-scale sectors to get on the growth path.

He said that to solve the banking problems of people living in remote hilly areas such as Attappady and Parambikulam, a business-correspondent model banking should be implemented. People living in remote areas should get banking facilities at least once a week. The business-correspondent model could reach them. The service cooperative banks and farms clubs could be used for it.

Mobile banking

He said the banks could start mobile banking as introduced by the District Cooperative Bank.

The meeting fixed Rs.3,259 crore as the District Credit Plan for 2009-10.

District panchayat president Subaida Ishahaq inaugurated the meeting. O. Raveendran, Lead District Manager, M.S. Sadanandan, General Manager, District Industries Centre, and others spoke.