India to have 5 crore more bank accounts by March 2012

February 10th, 2011 - 10:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) The government hopes to bring 73,000 villages under the banking net that will lead to over five crore new bank accounts in rural areas by March next year, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Thursday. “We intend to cover at least 73,000 new habitations which have population of over 2,000 and we will open at least five crore new accounts by March 2012,” Mukherjee said at a function here.

He said all the villages having a population of over 2,000 will be brought under the banking network by the end of next financial year.

The minister pointed out that only 38 percent of the total 85,300 bank branches in India were in rural areas. Only 40 percent of Indians have access to banking facilities.

“Though the total number of bank branches have increased from 8,700 at the time of nationalisation in 1969 to 85,300 now, rural areas have only 32,000 branches,” said Mukherjee, adding that the government had directed all public sector banks to increase their presence in rural areas.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi Thursday launched a financial inclusion campaign called “Swabhimaan”. The campaign is aimed at encouraging people in rural areas to open bank accounts and use banking facilities.

“It is one of the first campaigns to make targeted and concerted efforts to ensure ease of access of organised financial system for the common people,” Gandhi said after launching the campaign.

She expressed concern over the low banking network in rural areas.

“Though India has one of the largest banking networks in the world, it is a matter of great concern that only 40 percent of our people have access to banking services.

“This revolutionary campaign seeks to correct that imbalance by establishing a new medium to ensure greater availability of full spectrum of financial services and organised banking to all our citizens regardless of which part of the country they may reside,” Gandhi added.

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