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Union Finance Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee said that we will be able to achieve the growth of 9 per cent for the year 2011-12 as projected by him in his last Budget speech. The Finance Minister said that for the current year we have not revised our projections of achieving the growth rate of 8.5 per cent despite achieving the growth of 8.8 per cent in the first quarter of the current financial year. The Finance Minister was addressing an august gathering of bankers and other dignitaries on the occasion of concluding ceremony of Platinum Jubilee year of Bank of Maharashtra, here today.

Those present on the occasion included Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Ashok Chavan, Minister of State for Finance, Shri Namo Narain Meena, Minister of State for Communication and IT, Shri Sachin Pilot, Secretary in the Department of Financial Services, Shri R. Gopalan, Chief Post Master General of India and Ms. Rameshwari Handa among others. The Finance Minister also inaugurated the 1500th branch of Bank of Maharashtra at Gangtok (Sikkim) by pressing a button. Minister of State for Finance, Shri Namo Narain Meena inaugurated the 75th branch within the current year i.e., 75th year at Jharana, Rajasthan also by pressing a button. Shri Ashok Chavan, Chief Minister of Maharashtra released a commemorative booklet of Bank of Maharashtra on this occasion while Shri Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Communication and IT released a special postal cover on Bank of Maharashtra.

Finance Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee in his address said that the banks have been asked to reach to the non banking people especially those in rural areas to achieve the target of providing financial and banking services to all the habitations of population of more than 2000 and above by the year 2012. The Finance Minister added that the Government has empowered the people by giving them right to information, right to job and right to education backed by legal enactments. Shri Namo Narain Meena speaking on the occasion said that the Bank of Maharashtra has provided ‘no-frill’ account services in 43 villages. Minister of State for Communication and IT, Shri Sachin Pilot said internet banking and mobile banking will be order of the day very soon and will provide a platform to reach to the non banking people. He said that there are 65 crore people using mobile services in the country while only 40 per cent of them have bank accounts. Therefore, there is a great possibility of providing banking facilities through mobile services to the non banking people, Shri Pilot added.

The text of the speech of Finance Minister on this occasion is also given below:

“It gives me great pleasure to be present here for the Closing ceremony of the Platinum jubilee year of Bank of Maharashtra. With its roots in Maharashtra, they have expanded over the years, have a pan- Indian presence and are recognized well for their social commitments. The Bank has stepped into its 75th year of service, with a total business of over Rs. 104,000 crore, having 13 million customers and network of 1457 CBS branches. I congratulate Shri Allen C.A. Pereira, the CMD and his team on this happy occasion.

Indian economy is back on growth track. But unless such growth is inclusive, we cannot proceed very far on the road to prosperity. Unfortunately, only 37.2% of the total bank branches of Scheduled Commercial Banks are in rural areas and only approximately 40% of the country’s population has bank accounts. Even in areas that are well covered by banks, there are sections of urban society excluded from the banking system.

In the whole gamut of this “inclusive growth” process, financial inclusion constitutes an important corner stone to reach out to “excluded” section of the society, the aam admi, particularly the poor people, the people in unorganised sector, in rural areas, which are not catered to by formal financial institutions, especially banks and FIs and this requires a high level of penetration.

With the experience gathered over last Seven and a half decades, Bank of Maharastra can and, I am sure, they will, play a definite catalytic role in stimulating the commercial ties between the financial services and the people who need them.

The Bank has done well to complete networking and interconnectivity of all its branches across India through core banking solutions (CBS). They are as the Lead Bank in Maharashtra They have been participating in our endeavour to promote financial inclusion with measures like ‘No Frill Accounts’, ‘simplified account opening’, ‘KYC Procedure’, apart from meeting Priority Sector targets. With over 54% of the branches located in rural and Semi-Urban areas, I am sure the bank can be an important catalyst of growth in the rural sector.

I feel happy to note that the Bank has set up a Trust viz. Mahabank Agricultural Research and Rural Development Foundation (MARDEF), for providing Credit Plus services to the farmers; their Gramin Mahila va Balak Vikas Mandal (GMBVM) Trust would also help in forming, nurturing, training and linkage of self-help groups.

I am glad to note that today the bank is opening its 75th branch in the current year, with 6 more branches in North Eastern states thereby achieving a branch network of 1505. They are also releasing a commemorative book as well as special cover today. I also feel happy that today another 25000 Self Help Groups are being financed making it a total of more than 75000 SHGs financed by them. Today, the Bank has adopted 75 more backward villages for an integrated development for basic infrastructure in sanitation, healthcare, education, energy and water conservation in these villages.

On its 75th Foundation day, I again wish the bank the very best in their pursuit of a place of pride in the Indian Banking landscape.”

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