West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra on Friday said the cooperative banks in the state have lent Rs 36,000 crore in the last five years and urged the lenders to extend the services in rural areas.
In a bid to bring unbanked areas under the institutional credit network, the state government will provide space inside panchayat offices so that banks can set up branches, he said.
"Total lending by cooperative banks in the state stood at Rs 36,000 crore in the last five years," the minister said.
Speaking at the 'Samabay Mela' here, Mitra said there is a need to "deepen and extend the cooperative movement" in the state.
Under the 'Krishak Bondhu' scheme, a farmers' welfare programme, the state has disbursed Rs 601 crore in 2018, benefiting 39 lakh farmers and sharecroppers, he said.
The West Bengal government has extended Rs 430 crore so far this year under the scheme, helping 27.4 lakh cultivators, Mitra said.
The vision of the state government is that there will be "no unbanked panchayats" in West Bengal, the minister said.
"For this, banks will be given space inside panchayat offices to set up their branches", he said.
Mitra said the state cooperation department has set up customer service points (CSPs) so that people can carry banking transactions like RTGS and NEFT to transfer money.