Special Correspondent

Banking outposts in all gram panchayats in the form of Customer Service Points

Bank plans to gradually upgrade its services

BHUBANESWAR: The State Bank of India on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Orissa Government to launch an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) scheme for payment of NREGA wages and other social security benefits to beneficiaries in all the 6234 gram panchayats of the State.

The MoU was signed by Chief General Manager of the Bank’s Bhubaneswar Circle Shiva Kumar and Director of Special Projects in Panchayati Raj Department of the State government J.P. Agarwal.

State Panchayati Raj Minister Prafulla Samal, Secretary of the Department S.N. Tripathi and a number of senior officials of the State government and the bank were present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Kumar said the project will be initially launched in 1000 gram panchayats in 10 districts having more number of NREGA beneficiaries. Based on the experience in the first phase of the implementation of the scheme, the project will be extended to the remaining gram panchayats over the next 10 to 15 months, he added.

With the aim to achieve maximum financial inclusion, the bank will establish banking outposts in all the gram panchayats in the form of Customer Service Points making thereby the concept of doorstep banking a reality in the State, Mr. Kumar said.

Mr. Samal expressed hope that the new scheme will go a long way for better implementation of the NREGA. This will help check migration of labourers, he said.

More and more people were migrating to distant towns in search of work as the payment of NREGA wages was still a time consuming process, he said.

Mr. Tripathi said about Rs. 80 crores was being spent under the NREGA per month in the State at present, and with the implementation of the new scheme the government was hoping the expenditure would increase up to Rs. 150 crores in a month.

Though the scheme was primarily designed for payment to NREGA beneficiaries in the initial months, the bank plans to gradually upgrade its services at the Customer Service Points and provide a range of financial services like recurring deposits and small ticket loans to rural households.