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Budget 2014 displays intent towards financial inclusion

E. Kumar Sharma     July 10, 2014

There is intent if not a move towards more financial inclusion in two paragraphs of the budget speech of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Para 132 reads: "After making suitable changes to current framework, a structure will be put in place for continuous authorisation of universal banks in the private sector in the current financial year. RBI (Reserve Bank of India) will create a framework for licensing small banks and other differentiated banks. Differentiated banks serving niche interests, local area banks, payment banks, etc., are contemplated to meet credit and remittance needs of small businesses, unorganised sector, low income households, farmers and migrant workforce."


If this is not enough, the other para to watch out for is No. 130, which says: "To provide all households in the country with banking services, a time bound programme would be launched as Financial Inclusion Mission on August 15 this year. It would particularly focus to empower the weaker sections of the society, including women, small and marginal farmers and labourers. Two bank accounts in each household are proposed to be opened which will also be eligible for credit."

Those in the financial inclusion space, however, are not surprised. They find the first para, in some sense, echoing what the Nachiket Mor Committee (Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low Income Households) had recommended on small banks and remittances. As for as the second one, while the measure to ensure two bank accounts per household seems a good move, experts would have liked some roadmap on how this can be achieved and the viability of this measure.




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