TIMELINE FOR COVERAGE OF ALL ELIGIBLE FARMERS BY NOVEMBER 30
Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman has set a timeline – September 1 to November 30, 2022 – for every district in Nagaland to conduct their outreach programmes regarding credit schemes for farmers — Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme.
Addressing the Bankers’ Conclave/Credit Outreach Programme at Capital Cultural Hall here on Tuesday in the presence of Nagaland governor Prof. Jagdish Mukhi and chief minister Neiphiu Rio, Sitharaman called upon the banks to reach out to all eligible beneficiaries with the help of local MLAs and district administration and also requested chief minister Neiphiu Rio to use the State machinery to identify eligible citizens for the schemes.
She regretted that against the target of 2.3 lakh, only 70,927 farmers in Nagaland were given Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme.
She also asked the bankers to give feedback on whether the mission was accomplished or any difficulties faced during the course of carrying out the mission.
Sitharaman reminded that KCC covered not only the farmers who cultivated crops but also those rearing cattle, poultry, piggery and fisheries.
She emphasised that with 70% of Nagaland’s population engaged in agriculture, more farmers should be brought under the ambit of KCC. In this regard, she directed the banks to go the extra mile and include those who were involved in rearing livestock as well.
Sitharaman said the government was trying to ensure that all eligible farmers were covered, while also admitting that difficult terrain made accessibilitya big challenge.
She remarked that the only way to overcome the challenge was through mobile connectivity and asked banks to adapt themselves with latest technologies to enable mobile banking.
Sitharaman acknowledged that Nagaland had performing well in Atal Pension Yojana, Mudra Scheme and Start-ups, by achieving more than the nation’s target in APY and Mudra scheme.
She disclosed that banks had sanctioned Rs 18.81 crore against 551 accounts during two-day programme under Mudra scheme. She assured that young minds with innovative ideas, even in rural areas would be provided skills and supported through banks.
She said the scheme was implemented well in Nagaland as 523 accounts had already been opened and Rs 112 crore disbursed through loans for SCs and STs.
Open branches in remote areas: Rio tells banks
In his address, chief minister Neiphiu Rio, while acknowledging that much help was required from private banks to expand credit base even as deposit base of some private banks had expanded, hoped that the private banks would also expand their network of branches without limiting themselves to Dimapur and Kohima alone.
“We urge them (bankers) to cover the remoter towns, and especially the unbanked 26 of the 74 blocks,” Rio said.
Acknowledging SBI for establishing bank branches in remote places in the State, the chief minister exuded confidence that the bank would continue its leadership role and expand activities, while assuring to extend all support.
He further mentioned that through the credit outreach, banks will extend Rs 223 crore credit under various schemes and retail loans, to the people of Nagaland.
He expressed appreciation of union minister Sitharaman for launching mobile ATM van sanctioned to Nagaland Rural Bank and two projects under Tribal Development Fund and virtual inauguration of Axis Bank branches including Chessore branch of Nagaland Rural Bank in Shamator district.
Rio said these would help meet the demand for formal banking services in the State and boost credit deposit ratio, currently hovering at around 50 %, much below the RBI benchmark of 60 %.
He said the state government has been encouraging and facilitating people to take up private enterprises in order to meet the rising aspirations. However, he said access to credit and financial services of banks had been a matter of concern.
According to Rio, limited access implied that the entrepreneurs were largely dependent on informal lending while a large proportion of credit sanctioned by banks, other than those extended under various government schemes, had been for buying consumer goods and housing loans.
He said though this was essential, yet it was an imperative to increase credit flow to those who required it for running their enterprises. He stressed that this was a critical area where banks would have to put in more effort. He assured that the State government was ready to support them and address their concerns.
Rio also said the issue raised by the banks regarding implementation of the SARFAESI Act, 2002 in the State would be addressed to enable them to extend loans against secured assets.
With a view to increase offtake of credit to priority sectors, Rio said the Chief Minister’s Micro Finance Initiative would be launched that would make credit more affordable and available to individuals, SHGs and Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs).
He hoped that through this scheme additional credit of Rs 200-250 crore would be disbursed during the year so as to help increase farmers’ incomes, promote credit discipline, encourage private enterprise and improve agri-marketing network and infrastructure in the State.
He expressed happiness that North East Small Finance Bank was willing to extend Rs 150 crore as loan to small entrepreneurs and farmers and also open 10 branches in the State.
Speaking on the occasion, chief secretary JAlam congratulated the banks and State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) for contributing to the State in terms of providing credit to priority sectors, uplifting vulnerable sections and promoting agriculture and business initiatives.
He maintained that post Covid pandemic, role of banks had become crucial in revitalising the economy. Therefore, he stressed that it was apt that several new initiatives were launched, taking banking facilities closer to the people of Nagaland.
As rest of the country marched ahead with technological developments, he stressed that Nagaland should not be left behind. He added that a common refrain from the banks was lack of proper internet connectivity coming in the way of providing banking services in remote and unbanked parts of the State.
Secretary department of financial services Sanjay Malhotraexpressed satisfaction at the conduct of outreach programme and said banks should reach out to citizens and assist them, instead of waiting for people to come to them, while requesting the chief secretary to support the banks in this regard.
He disclosed that two districts had reached the saturation point for KCC, commenting that all districts too could be made KCC-saturated districts.Altogether 25 banks participated in the conclave.