Money & Banking

Finance Minister to talk to States to ensure Bank mitras can move without restrictions during lockdown

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 28, 2020 Published on March 28, 2020

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

will also speak to all banks to facilitate flow of cash

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday promised to talk to the States so as to ensure that Bank Mitras can move freely without any restrictions during the current 21-day lockdown imposed by the Government in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Appreciate the service Bank Mitra/ Banking correspondents are undertaking across the country. Will talk to States —request no restrictions in their movements. Will speak to all banks to facilitate cash flow. Let’s ensure timely access to all. @FinminIndia@DebasishPanda87”, Sitharaman tweeted.

Post the countrywide 21-day lockdown announcement to curb the spread of Coronavirus, bank Mitras/banking correspondents —the frontline warriors especially PMJDY bank Mitras—were facing operational impediments. Some of the challenges faced by them include travel restrictions, confusion in bank timings, cash shortage at rural bank branches and crowd management.

In view of the current lockdown, Bank Mitras are not able to travel freely from their homes to their centres and from their Centres to the bank branches to collect cash for distribution of relief cash. There are nearly 8.5 lakh business correspondents in the country, including about 1.5 lakh Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) Bank mitras..

The Business Correspondent Federation of India (BCFI), a body representing fintech companies working towards delivery of financial services to underbanked and unbanked, had on Friday highlighted the severe cash crunch in rural India with just 25,000 ATMs across 6.5 lakh villages. The federation had requested for more cooperation and support from local authorities in helping these foot soldiers (bank mitras) play their part in this hour of need. BCFI also pitched for relief incentive worth Rs 5,000 for three months to the business correspondents to motivate them to offer uninterrupted services and the benefits of the relief package reach the intended.

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister on Saturday also tweeted that Corporate Affairs Secretary Injeti Srinivas has held discussions with representatives of CII, FICCI, Assocham and PHDCCI to hear and address their concerns. Finance Ministry will continuously remain and respond to industry’s inputs, the tweet added.

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The Finance Minister’s office also tweeted, commending the entire banking fraternity for their tireless and brave efforts to ensure that banking services continue in these adverse times and that every customer is reached In a timely and safe manner.

Several banks have also implemented emergency credit facilities and cheaper working capital loans to ensure that MSME, corporate, retail and agricultural customers are able to tide over this period with sufficient liquidity at their disposal, it added.

Bank officials and staff have consistently been on the frontline in providing services to customers during this time of adversity, whether it is physically providing cash where it is needed or keeping branches open no matter what, according to the Finance Minister.

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Published on March 28, 2020
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