Govt to extend social benefits under Jan-Dhan Yojana: Jaitley

Arun Jaitley
The government aims to utilise bank accounts under its flagship financial inclusion scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), to extend insurance, pension and credit facilities to those excluded from these benefits, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday.

He said so on the occasion of India joining a United Nations' initiative to enable countries’ transition to electronic payments. The initiative, Better Than Cash Alliance, will facilitate the government’s aim of promoting cashless transactions in the economy.

“The scale of ambition of the Jan-Dhan Yojana has been much higher than for any other financial inclusion initiative in the past. The project has been instrumental in bringing almost all families of the country into the formal financial system and enabling citizens at the grassroots to perform financial transactions and keep their hard-earned money safe,” Jaitley, away in Ankara, Turkey, for a G-20 countries' meet of finance ministers, stated on the first anniversary of the financial inclusion scheme.

India has been recognised in the Guinness World Records for opening a little over 18 million bank accounts in a week. Under PMJDY, 175 million new accounts have been opened in a year, with total deposits around Rs 22,600 crore.

“As a next step, the aim is to utilise these accounts for extending insurance, pension, and credit facilities to those currently excluded from these benefits,” said the minister.

Digital financial services are a key tool for implementation of the goals. The hope is that this would inspire other governments to harness the power of digital payments as a strategy for achieving the (global) Sustainable Development Goals, the statement added.

“India’s leadership and progress are inspirational for countries around the world,” said Ruth Goodwin-Groen, managing director of the Better Than Cash Alliance.

Meanwhile, the finance ministry said the focus of PMJDY had moved from account opening to facilitating account holders in withdrawing cash from an approachable distance, as the former activity was reaching  a saturation point. The initial expectation for bank accounts was around 75 million but close to 180 mn had been opened. And, 157.4 million Rupay Debit cards had been issued, it said.

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