Odisha launches ‘Ama Bank’ to provide banking services in rural areas

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today launched ‘Ama Bank’ scheme for providing banking services through CSP Plus banking outlets in all unbanked Gram Panchayats in Odisha.

Financial inclusion is the basic need for social and economic progress and empowerment of people. No country or state can ever attain inclusive growth without achieving financial inclusion for its people. Reaching out to the people at the bottom of the pyramid and delivery of public services to the last mile in a fair and transparent manner, has been one of the highest priority agenda of Odisha government, said the Chief Minister.

However, financial inclusion has remained a challenge as the geographical penetration of banks in the state has been rather dismal. About 65 per cent gram panchayats in Odisha do not have a brick and mortar bank branch, leading to severe challenges and difficulties in accessing banking services and availability of Direct Benefit Transfer for a majority of our people in rural areas. The rate at which brick and mortar branches have been set up in Odisha over the last five years, it would take more than 30 years to provide a brick & mortar branch in every unbanked GP, he added.

The state government in collaboration with six public sector banks namely SBI, PNB, UBI, UCO Bank, Bank of India and Bank of Baroda has come up with the ambitious scheme ‘Ama Bank’ for providing banking services through CSP Plus banking outlets to every unbanked GP.  Ama Bank is a low cost brick and mortar micro bank branch which sits between a BC and a small bank branch and will provide all necessary banking services like deposits, advances, remittances, Loans, Aadhar Enabled Payment System, credit linkage to SHGs and coverage under social security schemes, said the Chief Minister.

“Senior citizens, differently-abled people and pregnant women will get door step banking services and avail Direct Benefit Transfer in a timely and hassle free manner. The poor rural people in Odisha will not have to travel long distances to avail the benefits under several schemes of the state government, particularly Old Age Pension (OAP), KALIA and MAMTA or to apply for a small business loan. This will be truly inclusive and empowering for the people of the state,” he added.

The scheme will be implemented in a phased manner to cover all 4,373 unbanked GPs of the state during the current financial year. The state government is providing rent free banking space for five years. Besides, it will bear one-time expenses for Fixed Cost and Recurring expenses for a period of three years. A provision of Rs 500 crore has been made for this scheme, sources said.

In the first phase, 750 CSP Plus outlets covering all 30 districts were dedicated to the people of Odisha today. Odisha is the first state in the entire country to conceptualise and implement such a holistic scheme for Financial Inclusion, said the Chief Minister.

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