Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (left) and Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Guwahati, Assam on Thursday Credit: EastMojo image

Guwahati: Public Sector Banks in Assam have been directed by union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday to reconcile any mismatched bank accounts of tea garden workers to attain full-fledged financial inclusivity.

The FM was in Guwahati as a part of her cross-country trip to cities under the initiative called ‘Jan Jan ka Budget’, for explaining the nuances of the Union Budget 2020-21, and clear any doubts of stakeholders. Guwahati was the sixth city she visited after covering Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Sitharaman said: “We wanted the banks to be a lot more agile. I’ve clearly given a direction to the banks that all accounts of the tea garden workers should be made DBT (direct benefit transfer) compatible. In the sense, they should have all the prudential norms and other things as required.”

Further banks have been directed to ensure that all accounts of tea garden workers should seamlessly continue and banks should be flexible in reconciling any such account which may have mismatched information compared to the identity proofs furnished. She added: “All that reconciliation should happen before 15th of March.”

On making banking more feasible for tea garden workers she said that within seven-10 days, the state will submit a mapping of where they want ATMs in the tea garden districts. “The moment the list comes, all the banks will be given the list…I would think in about 40 days after that ATMs should be in place where the state government has asked for it.”

Also Read: Assam: Gautam Baruah sent to 10-day custody in Rs 121-cr fund scam

Sitharaman said that the banks have been told that wherever necessary, they should increase the number of bank mitras who actually can take the cash and go deliver it. [Bank mitras work as representatives and agent of Bank who provide banking services to citizens like account opening; cash deposit acceptance and cash withdrawal etc.]

Meanwhile, Assam finance minister who was present at the press meet thanked the Union FM for personally visiting the state and boosting confidence ahead of the announcement of the state budget on March 6.

He said that the state had opened 8 lakh accounts for tea garden workers, but 30% of those, that is around 2.5 lakh accounts remained dormant due to KYC compliance issues. But now Sitharaman has directed these banks to resolve the issues and make all these accounts live, immediately. Further, the FM has assured that she will visit again after a month or so to see if anything still remains to be done.

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