Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on Tuesday, urged public sector banks to step up the flow of credit to Scheduled Castes (SCs). She also directed lenders to enhance the coverage of SCs in government schemes.

Chairing a review meeting of the performance of PSBs on credit and other welfare schemes for SCs, Sitharaman advised the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to carry out improvements in schemes like CEGSSC and VCF, after discussion with agencies like Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI).

She also asked PSBs to look into the needs of SCs for capacity building and entrepreneurship development as they constitute about 18 per cent of the total workforce of the banks and FIs.

At the meeting, banks were asked to fill the small number of remaining backlog vacancies in a time-bound manner. 

The DFS was also asked to bring about Forward and backward linkages through convergence of various schemes of different Government departments for SCs while giving them financial assistance

Redressal of all pending grievances pertaining to SC community may also be taken up in the special drive by DFS from October 2, said Sitharaman.

Banks have been asked to make proper digital records for jobs being outsourced, especially for posts like Safai Karamcharis from October 1.

Sitharaman said that the objective of the meeting was to bring all stakeholders on a common platform to work together in fulfilment of the rights enshrined in the Constitution for the upliftment and betterment of the people from the Scheduled Castes. 

She also observed that performance in schemes like National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) where 21 per cent of the credit linked Self-Help Groups (SHGs) were SCs and in SVANIDHI, 19 per cent of the beneficiaries are SCs, is satisfactory.

Vijay Sampla, Chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSCs), urged the bankers to give all the due bank credits to the SCs. He mentioned that the Government has initiated a number of Schemes for the benefit of SCs. The bankers should ensure that the benefits of schemes such as National Livelihood Mission, Credit Enhancement Guarantee Scheme for Scheduled Castes, Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes, Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers etc. should reach to the targeted population.

The review meeting was also attended by NCSC members Subhash Ramnath Pardhi and Dr Anju Bala; Union Minister of State for Finance Dr Bhagwat Kisanrao Karad; and Shri Sanjay Malhotra, Secretary, Department of Financial Services (DFS), along with senior officials of the DFS and NCSC.

The Finance Minister also desired that the PSBs apprise the NCSC twice every year—first through an interaction anytime from April 14 (Birthday of Babasaheb Ambedkar) to April 30 and second by sharing information in October—regarding the progress made in recruitment and credit to Scheduled Castes.

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