Even as Maharashtra reaches near-saturation level in opening bank accounts for every household, Devendra Fadnavis, the Chief Minister, has his next task cut out for him reaching out to those whose records are not available with the government. Excerpts from an interview with Kartik Sharma of Elets News Network (ENN)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched a massive financial inclusion programme called Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY). The State of Maharashtra has reached almost saturation point in ensuring bank accounts for every household. What are your views on this?
I must congratulate the bankers who have done a great job in reaching out to the last man. Bank accounts have been opened for each and every family, whose records were available. However, in our last meeting, we decided that we should not be satisfied by reaching the near-saturation level. We must reach out even to those people who have not been included in the survey. We have completed 99 percent of the task and now we are heading for 100 percent comprehensive financial inclusion in Maharashtra.
Maharashtra is the financial capital of the country with several banks having their headquarters here. How do you see the role of the State in expanding financial inclusion across the country?
In my opinion, empowerment of people comes through expansion of financial institutions and financial inclusion. At the macro level, the network of financial institutions is very good in Maharashtra, but at the micro level, it is not sufficient. Therefore, we must expand the network of financial institutions. This is true especially for the areas like Vidarbha and Marathwada, where the network of nationalised banks and commercial banks need to expand. Right now, the credit-deposit ratio in these regions is poor. So, I have appealed to the banks to expand their network in Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.
How important do you think is the role of technology in financial inclusion?
We are focusing on last-mile connectivity at the moment. Once that is achieved, we can use technology for expanding the facility of virtual banks even up to the gram panchayat level. So, we will try to use more and more technology in the framework of governance.
The Government of India is coming up with various schemes like Digital India, Make in India, PMJDY, etc. How do you see Maharashtra working in sync with these initiatives?
These are very important initiatives of the Government of India and they hold true for the nation at large. I believe that if India has to grow beyond eight percent, Maharashtra has to grow beyond 10 percent, as it is one of the most developed states. We are celebrating the Digital Year, in which we will launch several digital initiatives. We launched Aaple Sarkar platform on January 26, which is a portal like MyGov at the national level. This portal will help people connect with the government.
If India has to grow beyond eight percent, the State of Maharashtra has to grow beyond 10 percent, as it is one of the most developed states
Maharashtra has huge number of cooperative banks, which play a crucial role in the economy. How do you look at this sector?
Cooperative institutions are the backbone of our economy and we need to strengthen those. At the same time, we need to ensure that these institutions function in a transparent manner. In a recent incident, a cooperative bank collapsed for lack of transparency. In these institutions, there is a major role of trusteeship. We want to encourage such institutions and create a framework in which more and more cooperative banks and cooperative societies are created.
Please share your message for the Participants at BFSI Leadership Summit.
For the development of an economy, a society or a community, there has to be a framework where the financial capabilities of societies, nations and economies are built up. Banks have a very important role to play in this context. Banks have also played a pivotal role in our nation building process. As India is a growing economy where people are willing to invest, we need good banks and financial institutions to expand our fiscal presence. I am sure, the BFSI Leadership Summit will provide impetus to the process of strengthening the banking system in the State and in the country. I wish the Summit all success and hope the stakeholders would benefit from the deliberations.