Srinagar: Union Minister of State for Finance Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad appreciated banks in Jammu and Kashmir for higher credit delivery under various government-sponsored and self-employment schemes.
He also urged them to work harder towards ushering in the digital ecosystem and financial inclusion in the union territory.
Karad made these remarks while chairing the 4th meeting of the J-K Union Territory Level Bankers' Committee (J-K UTLBC) held at Mini Secretariat Ganderbal in central Kashmir.
The union minister arrived on a two-day visit to Ganderbal district under the Centre's public outreach programme.
While hailing J-K as the crown of India, Karad said the UT has a unique significance for the country and the central government will always support the administration in its endeavours to improve the lives of people.
He also expressed satisfaction over the low level of NPAs under MUDRA and other government-sponsored schemes in a predominantly retail economy like J-K.
Urging bankers to ensure 100 per cent coverage of villages under financial inclusion programmes of the Finance Ministry and RBI, Karad asked banks to make all-out efforts to cover all the unbanked areas.
Chief Secretary A K Mehta informed that all government payments in the UT are done digitally.
Mehta said the government is committed to providing gainful employment to 1 lakh youths in J-K through various schemes and urged the departments and banks to synergise their efforts to achieve the target.
He further said the government has started the process of creating employment opportunities both in the public and private sectors to reduce the unemployment rate to 5 per cent.
Mehta said banks in the UT for the most part maintained business continuity during the pandemic. Overall, banks are doing well but need to improve greatly in certain schemes like Stand Up India, as well as initiatives for SCs, STs, OBCs etc.
Outlining the role of the financial sector in J-K during the pandemic, Jammu and Kashmir Bank Chairman & MD R K Chhibber said banks responded proactively by providing uninterrupted services to people of the union territory while adhering to COVID guidelines.
Chhibber said the targets assigned by the J-K government under the 'Back to Village' programme have been achieved by disbursing an amount of Rs 337 crore to 20,000 beneficiaries.
It was informed that banks operating in Jammu and Kashmir have extended a total credit of Rs 7,296.58 crore to 3,29,370 beneficiaries, registering an improvement of 16 per cent in financial terms and 22 per cent in physical terms during the first quarter of FY 2021-22. This was under the Annual Credit Plan of Rs 44,980.57 crore for 14,97,700 beneficiaries.
The Union Minister also chaired a meeting of senior officers to review the progress on various ongoing development projects and schemes in the district.
The meeting was attended by the Additional Chief Secretary, Finance Department, Atal Dulloo;, Deputy Commissioner, Ganderbal, Krittika Jyotsna and other officials.
The minister appreciated the district administration for its achievements in various schemes and asked the officers to work for all-around development of the district.
Jyotsna gave a brief overview of the developmental activities in the district. She also briefed the minister about COVID mitigation efforts.
The minister also inaugurated an auditorium at Government Boys Higher Secondary School (BHSS), Ganderbal constructed at a cost of Rs 119.34 lakhs.
Later, the minister met a District Development Council (DDC) delegation led by DDC Chairperson Ganderbal, Nuzhat Ishfaq, representatives of Block Development Councils (BDCs), Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) who put forth various demands.
While interacting with the PRI representatives, the minister said the Centre's initiative of public outreach in J-K has been rolled out with the objective of bridging the gap between the government and public and ascertaining the needs of the people so that the same can be fulfilled in an effective manner.
He assured the representatives that the issues and grievances put forward by them will be resolved on priority.
The minister also paid obeisance at the Kheer Bhawani Shrine, Tulamulla.