The Minister for Rural Development, Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, addresssing the National Conference on Financial Inclusion recently asked bankers to place financial inclusion of rural people at the heart of their activities and ensure a corruption-free delivery system.
He pointed out that workers under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), members of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and Senior Citizens receiving old age pensions should be all covered under the banking system. The last man and woman in society should be covered in the financial inclusion, he stressed. Dr. Singh also called upon banks to take the initiative of assisting Rural Development Self Employment Training Institutes (RUDSETIs).
It was also decided to focus on areas like mapping of unreached areas and time bound extension of institutional facilities and financial services to such areas. Innovative solutions like Business Correspondent, ID cards with biometric identification, sensitization of postal/ bank personnel towards legally mandated processes under NREGA, and credit needs of poor and pension disbursements are also being explored. Other steps being considered include disbursement of pension on a fixed day of every month under Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme IGNOAPS, within 15 days in NREGA, zero balance accounts in post office for below poverty line (BPL) pensioners and innovative life insurance/ health products for NREGA workers. Increase in credit to SHGs under universal coverage and setting up of one RUDISETI in each district by end of 11th Plan are also being considered.
Under NREGA, 4.7 crore accounts in Banks and Post-Offices have been opened so far and about 40% of the wages are being disbursed through them. The aim is to make it 100 percent by the end of the year. On an average a household is expected to earn about Rs.4400 in 2008-09. Approximately 20,000 crores as wages will be disbursed through banks/post office accounts this year. All NREGA workers are to be included in Jan Shree Bima Yojana. Efforts are being made to cover NREGA workers under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana.
Pension is being granted to 144 lakh beneficiaries under Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme Pension. An amount of Rs.3775 crore has to be disbursed during the current financial year. For transparency, pension is to be disbursed through Bank/ post office account wherever feasible.