Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has said subsidies and freebies could not be a permanent feature if India was to become a prosperous country and a superpower.

Inaugurating 17 new branches, three training centres of Repco Institutions and launching Repco Bank's new deposit scheme, “Repco Crown” here on Saturday, he said subsidies and freebies could be seen as an initial support to make people economically stronger, but they could not be a permanent feature, if India wanted to become a superpower.

“The country could not develop, if people have to depend on subsidies and freebies. India could emerge as a super power and become prosperous and a wealthy nation, only if people are made to stand on their own feet,” he said.

Stating that it was the duty of the government to provide decent employment opportunities to the educated youth or help them to start their own ventures with bank loans, Mr Chidambaram, assuring bank assistance, exhorted the youth to start self employment.

He said the Congress led UPA had a clear vision to help the youths with bank loans and provide financial inclusion service to the people. It would go ahead with its vision and achieve the goal, unmindful of criticism, he said in an obvious reference to the criticism for the direct cash transfer scheme.

Pointing out that he had been accused of making people fall into debt traps, he said that the people on the other hand, look forward to the banks for loans for education, building houses, for buying cattle and start new ventures. “No new venture could be started without a bank loan now,” he said.

R. Varadarajan, Managing Director, Repco Group of Companies, said the bank's total business stood at Rs.7061 crore and it had earned a net profit of Rs 77 crore in the year 2011-12. As on December 31, 2012, the bank's business reached Rs. 8381 crore with net profit touching Rs.66 crore.

The bank had been maintaining zero net NPA and declaring 20 per cent dividend to its shareholders, he said.

The bank has so far, serviced 34,000 Self Help Groups and disbursed a loan of Rs.625 crore to them, maintaining 97 per cent recovery, he said.