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Banks achieve ‘total financial inclusion’

Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala has become the first State in the country to achieve ‘total financial inclusion’ of the citizen families; at least one member from each family now has a bank account.

The Union Territory of Pondicherry is the only other place in the country to achieve this earlier.

The Union Minister of State for Finance Pawan Kumar Bansal formally announced the achievement at a meeting of the State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) here on Monday.

The banks newly opened 12,70,331 savings bank accounts across the State after their decision to go for ‘total financial inclusion’ at an SLBC meeting just over a year ago. Of these, 8,70,463 accounts were of the ‘no-frills’ type, which meant that the account holder was not asked to even deposit the basic amount in his or her account.

The cooperative banks, government departments, Kudumbasree self-help groups, non-governmental organisations, several developmental agencies and the people’s representatives at all levels were involved in the campaign to attain this goal, Canara Bank Chairman and Managing Director M.B.N. Rao, in his capacity as the chairman of the SLBC, told the meeting.

The last of the 14 districts in the State reached the goal in September this year, though the formal declaration of the achievement at the State level was being done only now.

Mr. Bansal said a few other States were expected to attain this status soon.

This should only be the first step; the next should be to ensure that each family had access to bank credit, he said. Each family should have a credit card of the Kissan Card type so that it could turn to the banking system when in need.

He said the State too should put in place a mechanism to help the banks with the recovery of loans so that the banks could confidently perform their role in helping the country eradicate unemployment and poverty.

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