At JK Bank, FinMin Jr Asks Nationalised Banks to Perform Better

SRINAGAR: The nationalised and private banks operating in Jammu and Kashmir have been asked to improve their performance and increase their footprints in Jammu and Kashmir. Dr Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad, who presided over a bank review session in Srinagar, said he has identified various issues that need to be tackled for better and faster banking in Jammu and Kashmir.

MoS Finance Dr Bhagwat Kishanrao Karad and JK Bank MD and CEO Baldev Prakash talking to reports at JK Bank Hqs in Srinagar on November 23, 2022. KL Image

Flanked by JK Bank MD and CEO, Baldev Prakash, Dr Karad said though the overall banking sector is performing better in Jammu and Kashmir – with due credits to lead bank, the JK Bank – other banks will have to come forward and improve their footprints. “20 new bank branches are opening opened by March 2023,” the minister said. “I already virtually inaugurated four branches of JK Bank.”

A CD ratio of 58 per cent is good and NPAs are down, the minister said.

Karad admitted that there are various issues facing the banking sector in which the nationalised and private sector banks are operating within urban spaces and they have been told to improve their operations.

Asked whether the government of India will offer any concession to the apple growers facing the adverse market forces, the minister said they are aware of the situation and he will personally flag the issue in the government. He, however, made no commitment.

JK Bank MD and CEO said apple is facing a problem triggered by Jammu and Kashmir’s inability to have enough storage. “We are improving it and our bank has a Rs 2000 crore portfolio that caters to the CAS improvements in Kashmir,” Prakash said.

The minister who handed over 110 job offers in BSF and other security forces on Tuesday said the JK Bank will contribute 15000 trees for plantation within the premises of various paramilitary forces.

Karad said that the bank branching ratio in Jammu and Kashmir is better than the national average but the scattered population may require more facilities. He said the ATMs also have a fairly good ratio to the population. “There is not a single village in Jammu and Kashmir which has not a banking facility within a 5 km radius,” the minister said. However, he said the banks will have to improve the process of financial inclusion as it lags far behind the national average.

“I feel delighted to be part of this programme of JK Bank that is doing a commendable job of providing self-employment to the youth, progressing ahead with a clear digital vision, enhancing financial awareness of the people while deepening financial inclusion,” Dr Karad said at an event organised as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav at the Bank’s Corporate Headquarters. He gave sanction letters to 16 beneficiaries financed by the Bank under various self-employment schemes like PMEGP, Mission Youth, NRLM and AIF etc besides e-inaugurating Bank’s 4 branches and 3 ATMs. He also handed over a few Micro ATMs and Bio Metric Devices to Digi Pay Sakhis, who were on-boarded as female Business Correspondents of the Bank.

“The main objective of the Government under Narendra Modi Ji is to increase financial literacy, deepen financial inclusion and ensure that all the financial transactions are done digitally across the country,” the minister said. “I commend J&K Bank for their progressive contributions in this direction.”  He hoped that with strong commitment and smart services, the Bank would surely achieve its envisaged business goal of Rs 4 Lac crore in the next five years.

“During the last couple of days here, I have observed that JK Bank is far ahead of the lot in implementing all the flagship schemes of the Government meant for the poor and marginalized ranging from PM Jan Dhan Yojana and PM Jeevan Jyoti Bhīma Yojana to PMSVANidhi. And more so the Bank takes lead in financing the schemes like Mumkin, Tejaswani sponsored by the UT Government; for which I congratulate the MD & CEO Baldev Prakash and his entire staff”.

Dr Karad visited the JK Bank’s Digital Banking Unit (DBU) at Lal Chowk and inspected the stalls at CHQ, wherein the entrepreneurs financed by the Bank under various self-employment schemes showcased their products.

“Setting a target of Rs 4 lac crore business in next five years with an annual profit of 4 thousand crores, we are aiming to improve share of rest of India in our overall loan book to 50% through the re-oriented business strategy to not only increase our business but also to diversify the concentration risk in our core-geography i.e. J&K and Ladakh,” Baldev Prakash told the visiting minister.

The branches commissioned today are Ghoom Ahmadpora in Baramulla, Saliskote in Kargil, Kaghote in Udhampur and Wasoora in Pulwama, while the inaugurated ATMs are at Super Specialty Hospital in Shireen Bagh, the Central University of Kashmir in Ganderbal and Bhagha in Reasi Jammu.

The minister said the banks in Jammu and Kashmir have started implementing the scheme under which all the street vendors will be covered. The vendors will open their accounts and they will get Rs 10,000 loan at 7 per cent interest without any formality. The amount will double and can go up to Rs 30,000 in three years.

JK Bank had already launched a similar product almost a decade back on the pattern of Street Vendors Atma Nirbhart Nidhi-PM SVANishi scheme.

Earlier, Dr Karad chaired the special bankers meeting in which Chief Secretary and other top officers were present. He made a mention the meeting and talked about the good things happenings in Jammu and Kashmir.

Karad placed his recognition on record for a better average in branch and ATM coverage in Jammu and Kashmir as compared to the national average. He also felt happy to see that the average account balance in Jammu and Kashmir was higher than the National average.

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