One Trillion US Dollar Required for Infrastructure Sector: FM

Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission to be Set up to Clean up Financial Sector Laws: FM

Union Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee said that the Government is aiming at a double digit GDP growth in the medium term. He said that there is already an upturn in investment and private consumption demand, revival of merchandise exports and buoyancy in capital flows which can support this growth.

Shri Mukherjee was addressing the dignitaries, senior officials, staff and customers of Canara Bank on Founders’ Day Celebration of Canara Bank here today. Shri Mukherjee said that the Government has set the target for private and public sector investment in infrastructure to the tune of US1 trillion dollars for the next Five Year Plan. Mr. Mukherjee said that Banks as financial intermediaries have an important role to play in India’s growth story. He said that as requirements for infrastructure investment picks up, banks will have to prudentially manage asset liability mismatches. He said that banks also need to make use of innovative credit enhancement mechanism and take out financing for bridging gap between demand and supply of long-term funds.

Finance Minister Shri Mukherjee said that financial inclusion, which is core to the Government’s policy agenda, is carried forward in a cost effective manner. He said that the Government is in favour of cost effective technology solutions, implicit and explicit incentives and commitment to increase financial penetration of affordable banking services particularly in the rural and unorganized sectors. He expressed his happiness about the progress made by public sector banks in terms of increasing their penetration and outreach in underbanked and unbanked areas. He said that banks have formulated their Financial Inclusion Plans for 73,000 habitations in the country with population of more than 2000 and these are being monitored at the Central and the State level.

The Finance Minister Shri Mukherjee said with a view to strengthen and institutionalize the mechanism for maintaining financial stability and to address certain regulatory concerns in the Financial sector, the Government of India has decided to set up an apex-level Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC). He said that the Government has also decided to set-up a financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) to rewrite and clean up the financial sector laws and bring them in the line with the requirements of the sector.

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Shri Mukherjee said though on-going reforms should help further strengthen and stabilise the financial sector, the emerging challenges before banks cannot be overlooked. He said that care should be taken to ensure that there is no further deterioration of the asset quality as reflected by the increase in the proportion of doubtful and loss assets in the NPA portfolio of banks in 2009-10. He said that the banks at the same time should meet the additional provisioning norms to provide a cushion against asset slippages while maintaining profitability.

The text of the speech made by the Union Finance Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee on the occasion of Founder’s Day celebration of Canara Bank here today is as follows :

I am happy to be here today on the occasion of the Founder’s Day of Canara Bank. It is indeed a befitting tribute to Shri Ammembal Subba Rao Pai, the founding father of this bank, that five important initiatives are being launched today in his memory. The bank will be opening 100 additional branches, including 10 Micro Finance Branches; installing 105 ATMs; launching 50,000 smart cards through business correspondents; issuing general credit cards to 100,000 beneficiaries and opening financial literacy and credit counseling centres (FLCC) in 10 districts. I congratulate the bank for these initiatives for financial inclusion.

It is important that financial inclusion, which is core to the Government’s policy agenda, is carried forward in a cost effective manner. The Government is in favour of cost effective technology solutions, implicit and explicit incentives and commitment to increase financial penetration of affordable banking services particularly in the rural and unorganized sectors. I am happy to note the progress made by public sector banks in terms of increasing their penetration and outreach in underbanked and unbanked areas. Banks have formulated their Financial Inclusion Plans for 73,000 habitations in the country with population of more than 2000 and these are being monitored at the Central and the State level.

We are aiming at a double digit GDP growth in the medium term. Banks as financial intermediaries have an important role to play in India’s growth story. There is already an upturn in investment and private consumption demand, revival of merchandise exports and buoyancy in capital flows which can support this growth. Government has set a target for private and public sector investment in infrastructure of US$ 1 trillion for the next Five Year Plan which should create jobs, improve connectivity, promote greater economic activity and productivity. As requirements for infrastructure investment picks up, banks will have to prudentially manage asset liability mismatches. Banks also need to make use of innovative credit enhancement mechanism and take out financing for bridging gap between demand and supply of long-term funds.

The global banking and financial system is currently undergoing structural transformation with standard setting institutions and national authorities framing new regulatory paradigms to address the weaknesses that emerged during the recent financial crisis. Banks will have to continue to augment their capital base to support higher credit growth and to build capital buffers for cyclical downturns.

With a view to strengthen and institutionalize the mechanism for maintaining financial stability and to address certain regulatory concerns in the financial sector, the government of India has decided to set up an apex-level financial stability and development council (FSDC). The Government has also decided to set-up a financial sector legislative reforms commission (FSLRC) to rewrite and clean up the financial sector laws and bring them in the line with the requirements of the sector.

Though the on-going reforms should help further strengthen and stabilise the financial sector, the emerging challenges before banks cannot be overlooked. One of these challenges concerns management of NPAs and maintaining profitability. Care should be taken to ensure that there is no further deterioration of the asset quality as reflected by the increase in the proportion of doubtful and loss assets in the NPA portfolio of banks in 2009-10. At the same time banks should meet the additional provisioning norms to provide a cushion against asset slippages while maintaining profitability.

In line with the vision of its founder Shri Ammembal Subba Rao Pai and the founding principles formulated over a century ago, the bank has successfully managed to blend commercial and social objectives. I am happy to note that Canara Bank is rapidly progressing in terms of business growth and profits while maintaining a commendable record in promoting financial inclusion, supporting micro, medium and small enterprises (MSMEs), providing finance to farmers and training to the unskilled workers in the rural areas. They need to improve their overseas presence consistent with their peers of comparable size.

I would like to take this occasion to compliment the entire Canara Bank team for their steadfast commitment to the development of the country. I am sure this mega branch opening exercise would spur Canara Bank to even greater heights. I wish the bank and all its employees every success in this venture.

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