GUWAHATI, Sept 15 - The Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) organised a conference titled ‘Financial Inclusion in North East India; Opportunities, Challenges & Way Forward’ in the city today.
Inaugurating the conference, BK Mishra, Regional Director, Reserve Bank of India, applauded the efforts put in by various banks and other non-banking financial organisations to implement financial inclusion in the region.
“Support and growth of MSMEs and achieving financial inclusion are subjects that are close to the RBI’s heart and a mission for RBI in the region,” he said.
Stressing the need for improving financial literacy in order to achieve financial inclusion, Mishra urged the banks and other implementing agencies to create greater awareness among the masses through camps and other campaigns to achieve the desired results. He added that RBI is willing to provide necessary capital subsidy to banks to set up their branches in rural and remote areas of the region. He stressed the need for bringing a human touch to ensure successful achievement of stated targets.
Shio Shankar Singh, Chairman, Assam Gramin Vikash Bank (AGVB), spoke of his experiences in implementing financial inclusion in Assam. “Financial inclusion does not stop at opening a bank account and must mean to facilitate all banking facilities at an affordable rate to the last man of society to truly achieve the desired result,” he said.
Earlier, Nakib Ahmed, advisor, ICC, in his welcome address, pointed out that among the regions that have remained highly under-served and financially exclusive, the North East is the least evolved market. “Geographic remoteness, poor infrastructure, weak market linkages, and high ratio of NPAs are some of the challenges in this region. The average population per bank branch is highest for the North East. The North East has the lowest proportion of population having deposit accounts, with Manipur and Nagaland having dismally low ratios of 16 and 18 per cent respectively,” he said.
Speakers from NEDFi, SIDBI, UCO Bank, Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited and Senrysa Technologies (P) Limited also spoke at the conference, highlighting their respective organisation’s role and activities in the field of financial inclusion.
The conference was attended by all stakeholders that included banks, non-banking financial companies, NGOs, microfinance institutions and self-helps groups.