SBI pat for N-E circle business

Guwahati, Feb. 9 : State Bank of India chairman O.P. Bhatt today said the performance of the bank’s branches in the Northeast was “one of the best in the country” and that it was a sign of the all-round development of the region.

Addressing reporters here, he also said “business generated by the northeastern circle of the SBI is the best compared to other banks in the region.” The total business generated by the SBI in the Northeast is around Rs 50,000 crore, which is the best in the region by any bank.

SBI officials said of the 14 parameters by which circles are assessed, the northeastern circle was the best in seven.

Bhatt, who will retire in March, was the chief general manager of the northeastern circle from 2004-05. “When I had joined, the northeastern circle was 14th in terms of ranking but within a year it was first. At that time there were 14 circles,” he said. “The-re is a lot of entrepreneurial growth in the region, which has led to more growth,” Bhatt said, adding that this could be one of the reasons for the good business generated by the bank in the region.

The SBI has 538 branches in the Northeast and the number is expected to increase to 555 by the end of the financial year. The bank has 794 ATMs in the region now. The total number of SBI customers in the Northeast is 5 million.

Bhatt said much of the bank’s business in the region comes from the semi-urban and rural areas. Since April last year, the bank has opened 357 branches, of which 207 are in the rural and semi-urban areas, taking its total share of branches located in the rural and semi-urban areas to nearly 67 per cent.

The SBI has set a target of covering 407 villages that do not have banks by March 2012 under the financial inclusion plan in the Northeast. Branch and business correspondents of the bank have already covered 201 of these villages.

The SBI has opened a financial planning and wealth management centre on its premises in the city to offer financial planning services to high net worth individuals in the region which will allow them access to top investment opportunities in the rest of the country and share the growth in the developing market.