The central government has managed to open 24 crore bank accounts under the Jan Dhan financial inclusion scheme, towards linking every household with a bank account, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.
“Government has been able to open 240 million bank accounts, and now except in certain remote and inaccessible areas, people who are in a position to connect with a bank, have a bank account,” Jaitley said at the launch here of a financial inclusion initiative by Shri Ram College of Commerce.
He also said the provision under the MUDRA scheme (Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd.), for financing small traders and entrepreneurship among weaker sections, had been increased to Rs 1,80,000 crore in the current fiscal, from Rs 1,20,000 crore last year.
Earlier this month, Jaitley said that 80 per cent of the 24 crore new accounts opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) are now functional with cash balances.
“Eighty per cent of these accounts didn’t have money, in the first instance. So all government programmes now transfer payments in these accounts. The payments come from schemes like rural employment guarantee scheme and subsidies on fuel, food and ferlilisers,” he said at an event in Washington.
Following a quarterly performance review meeting he held here last month, Jaitley said four state-run banks are probing whether the money in some Jan Dhan accounts was deposited by the account holders themselves, or by business correspondents to keep the number of zero-balance accounts low.
“The banks are investigating from their branches whether account holders have put in money or business correspondents have done it. After that the banks will give their report to the Department of Financial Services,” Jaitley told reporters.
“Those 24 crore accounts mostly have people from weaker sections. Now those people have deposited Rs 42,000 crore in these accounts. The figure of Rs 42,000 crore cannot be arrived at by adding Re 1,” he added.
He was responding to a question on media reports citing specific instances where Re 1 or more was deposited by bankers themselves to lower the number of zero-balance accounts.
In a clarification in this regard, the Finance Ministry has said: “In view of the specific instances mentioned, facts are being ascertained to assess if there has been any misunderstanding at the branch level of the objectives of the scheme (PMJDY).”