Mukherjee hopes inflation decline will continue (Lead)

December 18th, 2011 - 9:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee Bangalore, Dec 18 (IANS) Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Sunday he hoped that the declining trend in headline inflation will continue and go down to six to seven percent by next March.

“Headline inflation is still high, perilously close to double digits,” he told reporters after a meeting of chief ministers of southern states and heads of public sector banks with their headquarters in the south.

Mukherjee, however, hoped that the declining trend will continue and by March, it will be six or seven percent.

Mukherjee said food inflation has come down, though overall it remains high in sectors such as fuel and manufacturing.

On global economic scene, the finance minister said: “We are going through difficult times, not only in India, but also all over the world.”

Earlier Mukherjee told the southern states to intensify efforts to expand financial services such as banking and insurance to rural areas.

“Out of 14,612 villages allotted to South Zone for provision of banking services, 11,114 villages have been covered by the end of October. This comes to about 76 percent,” Mukherjee told chief ministers of the region.

“Therefore, the rest of the villages representing nearly 24 percent need to be covered in the next three months. This in turn will require quite a bit of efforts on the part of state governments and banks,” he added.

Also present were the lt. governors of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.

The government has set a target of extending banking facilities to 73,000 habitations by 2012.

“We have been encouraging expansion of regional rural banks (RRBs). 276 branches will be opened by March 2012 and 325 by March 2013 in the southern region. I request state governments to extend their full support for RRBs,” said Mukherjee.

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