Government to expand banking, insurance services in northeast

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Saturday said the government will expand the banking and insurance networks in the eastern and northeastern states.

"Government is keen to expand the network of banks in eastern states, particularly in the northeastern states," said Mukherjee, addressing a meeting with chief ministers of the states and chief executives of public sector banks here.

According to Mukherjee, 27 out of 69 unbanked blocks in the northeastern region were added to the banking services on Nov 30.

"The remaining 42 unbanked blocks are in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland. I would urge the banks to extend the banking services to these remaining blocks also by March 31, 2012."

Mukherjee said the government had taken several initiatives to increase banking penetration in the northeast like directing banks to open branches in an area with captive population of 5,000 and above, and ensuring that all districts have a currency reserve.

"Government is pursuing to ensure that all the districts of northeast region have at least one currency chest and clearing house," he said.

"However, the government will ensure that the currency requirements of all the districts in the notheast region are adequately met."

The finance minister said that apart from expansion of banking facilities, steps have also been taken to strengthen the presence of insurance companies in the region.

"I am instructing LIC and non-life insurance companies to ensure that all districts have at least one branch or a satellite office during the coming year," he said.

Mukherjee urged the chief ministers to expedite the approval procedure for large infrastructure projects in their states.

"In my recent review, it has come to my notice that implementation of a number of projects are held up due to regulatory approval," Mukherjee said.