People won’t ask for banks and ATMs without there being any development: Finance Minister

The country has seen unprecedented development in the last nine years since the United Progressive Alliance assumed power at the Centre in 2004, said Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram here on Sunday.

Addressing a gathering at the inauguration of Punjab National Bank’s 6,000{+t}{+h}branch at Alangudi and 6,001{+s}{+t}branch at Sivaganga town, he said that there is a demand for opening a bank branch and an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) at every other village. “If there had been no development at all, why would people ask for banks and ATMs,” he questioned and pointed out that he could observe a vast change in his home constituency Sivaganga itself in the last 10 years. He said that it had made great strides in terms of development.

It now had better road connectivity, rail connectivity and even air connectivity through its nearest airport in Madurai. It has got many facilities such as two sugar mills — one at Alangudi and another at Sivaganga and two Kendriya Vidyalaya schools — one at Karaikudi and another at Sivaganga, he added.

“I have visited the constituency on 75 occasions in the last 50 months which means that I made three visits every two months. I make such frequent visits to know your grievances,” he said.

Stating that a nation’s development could not be judged by increase in number of police stations or arrest of criminals, he said: “Economic growth is the real indicator of development. Provision of better medical facilities, establishment of industries, increase in number of bank branches are some of the key pointers, he said. Justifying the necessity of more number of bank branches in every locality, he said that no bank opens a branch without conducting an independent study about the prospects. Establishing many branches of different banks in the same locality would lead to a healthy competition.

On the benefits that people would get due to opening of new bank branches, he said that PNB’s Alangudi branch had received deposits worth Rs. 3.5 lakh on the day of inauguration but gave loans to the tune of Rs. 1.65 crore on the same day. Similarly, the bank’s Sivaganga branch had received deposits worth Rs. 25 lakh but gave loans amounting to Rs. 1.65 crore to 256 beneficiaries. In his address, the bank’s chairman-cum-managing director K.R. Kamath said that the bank would adopt Alangudi village to celebrate the occasion of having established its 6,000{+t}{+h}branch and provide basic amenities.