IMPHAL April 30: Regional Rural Banks also known as Gramin Banks has become the largest rural banks in the country with 82 regional rural banks and a network of about 15600 rural branches spread across the country said, All India Regional Rural Bank Employees Association, secretary general, Dilip Kumar Mukherjee at a press conference held today at the conference hall of Imphal Hotel.
Way back in the year 1975, the then minister of State for Finance, Government of India, Pranab Mukherjee established the Regional Rural Banks with the objectives of extending cheaper credit to small and marginal farmers, he stated.
It was started with a meager sum of resources; however, today it is the largest Rural Banks in the country extending services in development and welfare of the farmers and the rural poor masses in general, he said.
Today`™s press conference was held to highlight the role of banks in Manipur in general and Manipur Rural Bank in particular. D.K. Mukherjee said that in comparison to the previous years, the present status of rural banking in Manipur is better; however, in the entire Northeastern region Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland still needs a long way to go, he stated.
The reasons are mainly because of non-existence of cheaper transportations like rail link, etc with the rest of the country and issues of insurgency related law and order insecurities, said the secretary general.
He said that the Dr. Rangarajan Committee on Financial Inclusion had categorically suggested that both deposit and credit data indicate that RRB branches in rural areas have performed better in relation to other scheduled commercial bank branches. This is significant from the point of view of financial inclusion as rural branches are closer and more active in extending its outreach to remote and interior villages.
Viewed from this angle RRBs are particularly well placed to achieve the goal of financial inclusion, he maintained. It further stated that 91% of the total workforce in RRBs is posted in rural and semi urban areas as compared to 38% for other scheduled commercial banks. Even in absolute terms, out of a total workforce of 179,423 deployed by all schedule commercial banks in rural areas, RRBs share is 25% (45,062). This is significant considering that at all India level, manpower of RRBs constitute only 7% of the total manpower of all schedule commercial banks, he maintained.
D.K. Mukherjee also mentioned that 64% of households are not accessing credit from formal sources in the Northeastern, Eastern and Central regions. In these regions, only 19.6% of farm households are indebted to formal sources. Of all the scheduled commercial banks, RRBs account for 34% of branches in Northeastern, 30% in Eastern and 32% in central regional whereas their presence is significantly lower (9% to 17%) in other regions, he maintained.
RRBs are best suited to take up the leadership role in financial inclusion across priority areas in states of Northeastern, Eastern and Central regions featuring high levels of exclusion. Corporate giants should not be allowed to monopolize the rural deposits for feeding their business endeavours, he further elaborated.
RRB staffs have been given the benefit of same salary structure of Public Sector Bank staff from September 1, 1987 as per Award of the National Tribunal appointed by government of India at the direction of the Supreme Court, Benefit of Pension was introduced in the Banking Industry as per Settlement on October 29, 1993, he added.
The said benefit has not been extended so far to the RRB staff though pension benefit is a part of salary structure as per Supreme Court judgment, he added.
He said that after a long struggle, Government of India appointed an Actuary to calculate pension liability and received the figures. For introduction of Parity of Pension in the RRBs, for 70,000 staff members, annual outgo will be about Rs100 crores when the annual net profit of the RRB is more 2000 crores, he added.
The Government of India has agreed to finalize this issue immediately and the entire RRB staffs, including the retired, deceased etc are expected to receive in the immediate future their pension and P.F at par with the Public Sector Bank staff as terms of Bipartite Settlement in the Banking Industry, he added.
D.K. Mukherjee also said that he had discussed with Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister, Government of India in March 2011, on the separate identity of RRBs and Autonomy under National Rural Bank of India and RRB staff to get Pension like Public Sector Bank Staff. The Minister was very much positive on the issue of Parity of Pension, however he added that on the issue of structuring of RRBs to form National Rural Bank of India and delinking of RRBs from the Sponsor Bank, Govt of India the union finance minister appeared to be non- committal.
The press conference was jointly organized by Manipur Rural Bank Employees Association (MRBEA) and Manipur Rural Bank Officers Association (MRBOA). Both the member representatives of the associations were also present during the press conference.