Banks can decide whether to waive a fine on a minimum balance: Minister of the Union

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Union Minister Bhagwant Karad pays a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

Srinagar:

The boards of directors of individual banks may decide to lift the fine on accounts that do not maintain a minimum balance, Union Finance Minister Bhagwant Kishanrao Karad said today.

“Banks are independent bodies. They have boards of directors that can decide to waive the fine,” Bhagwant Karad told reporters.

The minister was responding to a question whether the center would consider instructing banks not to write off fines from accounts if balances fall below prescribed minimum levels.

Bhagwant Karad is on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir to assess the implementation of various financial schemes in the Union Territory.

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The minister said that the banks in Jammu and Kashmir have done a good job over the years and instructed them to improve their performance on those parameters where they lag behind the national average.

“I have told the banks in Jammu and Kashmir to hold Saturday camps to bring the percentage of Jan Dhan Yojana accounts closer to the national average. While the national average is 49,135 per lakh population, the numbers in Jammu and Kashmir are 21,252 per lakh,” he said.

“The credit to deposit ratio in Jammu and Kashmir is 58 percent and I have asked them to increase it,” added Bhagwant Karad.

However, the minister expressed his satisfaction that despite the difficult terrain, there is not a single village in Jammu and Kashmir that does not have bank communications.

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“There is a bank correspondent within five kilometers of all villages in Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.

The minister said he has asked both public and private banks to expand their presence in Jammu and Kashmir.

Bhagwant Karad said that while Jammu and Kashmir had a higher number of bank branches and ATMs for every lakh population, there was a need to open more branches and ATMs as the population density in the Union Territory was lower compared to the rest of the country.

“The banks have pledged to open 20 new branches by March 2023. Of these, four branches have opened today and three new ATMs have also been inaugurated today,” he said.

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Bhagwant Karad said that financial literacy and financial inclusion among the masses were the major focus areas of the Modi government.

“In order to raise awareness of various loan schemes among the masses, we have approved two vans through NABARD for ambitious districts of Kupwara and Baramulla, which will bear the costs of the financial literacy campaign in these areas,” he said.

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