Govt directed banks to open more branches in J&K: MoS Finance

Union MoS Finance Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad during a function organised by J&K Bank in Srinagar on Wednesday. — Excelsior/Shakeel
Union MoS Finance Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad during a function organised by J&K Bank in Srinagar on Wednesday. Excelsior/Shakeel

4 branches, 3 ATMS of J&K Bank inaugurated

Excelsior Correspondent

SRINAGAR, Nov 23: Government has directed all the banks to increase their footprints in Jammu and Kashmir, Union Minister of State for Finance Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad said here today.
The Minister told a selected group of journalists here that he has asked both public and private sector banks to widen their presence in Jammu and Kashmir.
He said while Jammu and Kashmir had a higher number of bank branches and ATMs for every one lakh population, there was a need to open more branches and ATMs as the population density in the Union Territory was less compared to the rest of the country.
Karad said that if the economy has to grow, the bank branches have to be increased. “I have asked all 12 banks including HDFC, Access Bank and ICICI to increase branches in J&K,” he said.
“The banks have promised to open 20 new branches by March 2023. Of these, four branches were opened today while three new ATMs were also inaugurated today,” he said.
The Minister said the banks in Jammu and Kashmir had done a good job over the years and directed them to improve their performance on those parameters where they are lagging behind the national average.
“I have told the banks in Jammu and Kashmir to hold Saturday camps to bring the percentage of Jan Dhan Yojana accounts closer to the national average. While the national average is 49,135 per lakh population, the numbers in Jammu and Kashmir are 21,252 per lakh,” the Minister said.
“The credit-deposit ratio in Jammu and Kashmir is 58 per cent and I have asked them to raise it,” he added.
The Minister, however, expressed satisfaction that despite the difficult terrain, there was not a single village in Jammu and Kashmir that does not have bank communication. “There is a bank correspondent within five kilometres of all villages in Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.
Karad said financial literacy and financial inclusion among the masses were the top focus areas of the Modi Government.
“For creating more awareness among the masses about various loan schemes, we have sanctioned two vans for aspirational districts Kupwara and Baramulla through NABARD, which will bear the expenses of the campaign for financial literacy in these areas,” he said.
The minister while responding to a question if the centre would consider directing banks not to charge any penalty from the accounts where the balance falls below the prescribed minimum levels, said that the boards of individual banks can decide on waiving the penalty on accounts, which do not maintain a minimum balance.
“Banks are independent bodies. They have boards which can take a decision to waive off the penalty,” he said.
Karad is on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir to review the implementation of various financial schemes in the Union Territory. Today, he e-inaugurated 4 branches and 3 ATMs of J&K Bank besides handing over sanction letters to aspiring entrepreneurs at an event organized the Bank’s Corporate Headquarters in Srinagar.
MD & CEO Baldev Prakash, General Managers Sudhir Gupta and Syed Rais Maqbool DGMs and AGMs were present on the occasion.
While acknowledging the comprehensive support and quality services the J&K Bank is providing to people through a wide range of its initiatives, Dr Karad urged the Bank’s management to continue to deepen digital presence and enhance the quality of services.
Earlier, the MoS Finance visited the J&K Bank’s Digital Banking Unit (DBU) at Lal Chowk. He also visited the stalls at CHQ, wherein the entrepreneurs financed by the Bank under various self-employment schemes showcased their products.
MD & CEO Baldev Prakash apprised the Union Minister about the steps taken to align the Bank’s strategy with the national vision of Digital India. “The idea is to enhance the customer experience from satisfaction to delight through end-to-end digital solutions with secure services”, he said.
The function concluded with vote of thanks from Bank’s General Manager Syed Rais Maqbool. The branches commissioned today are Ghoom Ahmadpora in Baramulla, Saliskote in Kargil, Kaghote in Udhampur and Wasoora in Pulwama, while the inaugurated ATMs are at Super Specialty Hospital in Shireen Bagh, Central University of Kashmir in Ganderbal and Bhagha in Reasi Jammu.