Tirupati: A national-level financial body with a Rs 500 crore corpus will soon be set up to support Self-Help Groups, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said.
"A national-level financial institution with a corpus fund of Rs 500 crore would be set up to exclusively meet the financial requirements of the SHGs," he said at a function here last night.
The Finance Minister lauded the efforts of the Andhra Pradesh government for creating a "powerful" SHG network in the state.
However, he voiced concern over the slow progress of expansion of the banking network in the country as 73,000 villages are not covered by banks."Though nationalisation of banks was done 42 years ago, the banking network in rural areas is poor," he said.
"To address this problem, the ministry has embarked on a programme to ensure that by March, 2012, end, 73,000 un-banked villages are covered by some form of banking service. Our ultimate target is to cover every village with 1,000 population in the next three to four years," he said.
Mukherjee said the financial inclusion plan would provide banks with small savings and generate demand for banking products and services countrywide. "It is an effective tool to an inclusive development of the economy," he said.
The minister also called for technological innovation in the banking sector to provide the benefits of financial services to poor people.