Banks say loans to Bengal SHGs less but reason is not ‘Centre’s discrimination’
Earlier this week, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee opened a new front of confrontation with the Centre saying that nationalised banks have been giving step-motherly treatment to the Self Help Groups (SHGs) in West Bengal when it came to providing loans to them. However, Mamata’s claims have been punctured by the banks which said the less credit inflow to the SHGs in West Bengal stems from the fact that SHGs in the state have very less credit intake and their economic expansion has been poor.
Quoting a report prepared by the state Self Help Group and Self Employment Department, which stated that SHGs in the state have secured only three per cent total credit from nationalised banks under National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) while the southern states took away 79 per cent share in the last financial year, Mamata had urged people to raise voice against the “discriminatory attitude of the Centre” towards the state.
The issue was also raised by state Finance Minister Amit Mitra during the recent meeting of State Level Bankers’ Committee, which was attended by Reserve Bank of India Governor B Subbarao in Kolkata.
The state report, stated that during the 2011-12 financial year, SHGs in West Bengal secured only Rs 551 crore as loan from the nationalised banks — roughly 3.5 per cent of the bank’s total credit under the NRLM. However, SHGs in Andhra Pradesh secured maximum amount of loan of Rs 8,177 crore (51 per cent), followed by Tamil Nadu with Rs 1,933 crore (12.1 per cent), Karnataka with Rs 1,629 crore (10.2 per cent) and and Kerala with Rs 854 crore (5.4 per cent) under the same scheme and in the same period. Altogether, the SHGs of the four southern states received Rs 12,587 crore (79 per cent of total credit). “1.69 lakh SHGs in the state could not get bank loan even though West Bengal is among the first top six states which repay loan in time,” a senior SHG department official said. In West Bengal, there are about 14.5 lakh SHGs, according to the state government.
However, a top executive of United Bank of India, the convener bank of State Level Bankers’ Committee, rejected the state government’s allegation and pointed out two reasons for low credit flow to West Bengal SHGs.
“First and most important reason is that West Bengal’s SHGs