The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today asked bankers here to "stir up passion" for providing banking facilities to unbanked villages in Punjab and Haryana within stipulated time frame of March 2012.
The apex bank made this observation while reviewing the FIP's during the State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC) meeting for Punjab and Haryana held here.
Over 450 villages in both states are yet to be covered under Centre's most ambitious Financial Inclusion Plan (FIP).
"Passion and zeal is missing among bank officials... There has to be passion... Let us change our attitude... We are not officers... We have to work as public servants," Jasbir Singh, RBI Regional Director, said while discussing the review of financial inclusion programme.
The RBI says merely opening accounts of villagers in unbanked areas under FIP will not serve any purpose where transactions in holders' accounts is minimal.
"Mere opening of accounts will not serve purpose... transactions should also take place in the accounts," said Singh, acknowledging that number of transactions in accounts were not encouraging at several places.
He added that bank officials need to go to the masses in villages and try to bring them in the banking fold.
The RBI in its field visits conducted at some places in Punjab and Haryana found that bankers were enrolling the beneficiaries while showing them as covered under FIP, though smart cards were not issued to account holders, he said. In some cases where the smart cards are issued, it remained non-operational, he added.
According to RBI, the FIP is treated as complete with the whole operations of identification, enrolment, issuance of smart cards, and its operations by the account holders to be ensured by Business Correspondents.
Banks have been given the target of covering 1,576 unbanked villages in Punjab and 1,838 villages in Haryana, with a population of 2,000 and above, by March 2012.
Out of these, 1,260 and 1,670 villages have been covered in Punjab and Haryana by December 2011, respectively, SLBC report said.
Singh also stressed on creating awareness among villagers about the benefits of banking services so they could start using banking services at large scale.
Coverage of unbanked villages under FIP assumes significance as the Centre intends to extend benefits of banking to each citizen of India for speeding up economic development.