Union Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee has asked all the banks to over perform to achieve their targets so that by 2011, all habitations of 2000 population and above get the facility of a bank and related financial services. Earlier this target was fixed for March 2012. The Finance Minister said that he expected the banks to achieve this a year in advance through their better performance. Shri Mukherjee was addressing the august gathering of bankers, officials and customers on the occasion of 105th Foundation Day Celebrations of Bank of India in Delhi today. Shri Mukherjee said that what we are concerned today is that our growth has to be inclusive for our continued existence and prosperity. He added that our higher growth will have little meaning if our poor and excluded people do not have access to basic needs based on equitable, sustainable as well as just and fair share of this national prosperity. Financial inclusion will enable all of us to broaden our base by empowering the poor by assisting them to improve their standard of life.
He asked the banks to use latest technology as scalable financial inclusion cannot happen without stable and reliable information and communication technology and appropriate outreach of our banks.
Minister of State for Finance Shri Namo Narain Meena, Secretary Department of Financial Services Shri R. Gopalan, Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Bank of India Shri Alok Kumar Mishra also spoke on this occasion.
Text of Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee’s address, delivered on the occasion of Foundation Day Celebrations of Bank of India, is as follows:
“It gives me great pleasure to be present here for the Foundation Day celebration of Bank of India. I am particularly happy that the bank is opening its new branch office in Oriental Building, Fort, Mumbai from where the bank had began its journey 104 years ago with a modest capital of Rs.50 lakh and a staff of 50 only.
In course of its journey, it had weathered many crises, capitalized many opportunities and has emerged stronger financially and as an important partner in our country’s progress. Today, Bank of India is one of the largest Indian Banks with a business mix of over Rs. 410,000 Crore, serving the banking needs of over 37 Million customers through its 3250 Domestic branches and 29 Foreign offices. I congratulate Shri Alok Mishra, the CMD and his team on this happy occasion.
Over more than a century of its business, the bank has served Large and Small Industry, Trade and Commerce in ample measure, achieved priority sector targets and now they are gearing up to meet the challenges of financial inclusion to extend the financial services to the excluded population living in remote areas and in poverty.
But what we are concerned today is that our growth has to be inclusive for our continued existence and prosperity. Our high growth will have little meaning if our poor and excluded people do not have access to basic needs based on equitable, sustainable as well as just and fair share of this national prosperity. Financial inclusion will enable all of us to broaden our base by empowering the poor by assisting them to improve their standard of life.
We are fully aware of the major barriers for poor to access appropriate financial services such as lack of education, low and irregular income, mandatory requirements of documentation and product design factor. Promoting technological and institutional innovation as a means to expand financial system access and usage, including addressing infrastructure weaknesses could provide an answer to the above barriers. Today there is no dearth of technology and its transformational role cannot be over-emphasised. Scalable financial inclusion cannot happen without stable and reliable information and Communication Technology and appropriate outreach of our banks.
Like other banks, Bank of India has also participated in our endeavour to promote financial inclusion with measures like ‘No Frill accounts’, ‘easier account opening’, ‘KYC Procedure’, ‘adoption of district for 100% financial inclusion’, ‘use of civil society network like NGOs for providing micro financial and banking services’, ‘setting up of counselor centers in districts’. With over 60% of the branches being located in Rural and Semi-Urban areas and Lead Bank responsibility in 48 districts in five states, Bank of India can be one of the catalysts of growth in the Rural sector it serves. The bank has also launched several initiatives involving credit as well as non-credit inputs like infrastructure development, schools, medical facilities, veterinary facilities, rural marketing infrastructures etc. I expect Bank of India, now to over perform to achieve their target so that by 2011 all habitations above 2000 population get the facility of a bank and related financial services.
I am informed that the bank is rolling out some socially meaningful schemes today to commemorate their Foundation Day, which include schemes like establishment of two more RUDSETIs; donating 105 Solar street light systems to villages and RUDSETIs; donating ‘waste collection kits’ to 105 people engaged in Solid Waste management activity; launching of “Star Kisan Sathi”, for Landless Labourers and Marginal Farmers; and credit linkage of 1005 Women Self help Groups.
Indian economy at present is going through a phase of recovery with high GDP growth. Our commercial banks and PSBs in particular have performed quite well in terms of high credit growth, deposit mobilization and profitability apart from meeting their socio economic commitments. But I must emphasize that financial services is vital for economic resilience and Indian Banks must grow in size to be able to offer services on par with global players and must have appropriate systems in place to manage growth. As the global banking landscape has been changing fast, I look forward to the time, not very far away from now, when Indian Banks would reign among the top global brands. This growth aspiration must drive our bank’s future plans and actions with financial stability, resilience, vision and social commitments.
On its 105th Foundation day, I again wish the bank the very best in their pursuit of a place of pride in the Indian Banking landscape.