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Odisha’s Ama Bank: Paving the Way for Inclusive Banking in Unbanked Gram Panchayats

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Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched “Ama Bank” (Our Bank) on Tuesday, a pioneering scheme aimed at providing banking services through Customer Service Point (CSP) Plus outlets in all the unbanked gram panchayats (GPs) of the state.

During the launch, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik expressed confidence in the CSP Plus model, stating, “The CSP Plus model innovated by Odisha will become a model for the rest of the country.” He emphasized the government’s commitment to reaching the bottom of the pyramid and delivering public services transparently and fairly to the last mile.

“The highest priority agenda of the government has been reaching out to the people at the bottom of the pyramid and delivering public services to the last mile in a fair and transparent manner,” said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

The Ama Bank initiative aims to provide doorstep banking services, ensuring accessibility for senior citizens, differently-abled individuals, and pregnant women. This move is expected to facilitate timely and hassle-free Direct Benefit Transfers for those in need. The scheme is particularly designed to eliminate the need for rural residents to travel long distances to avail benefits under various government schemes.

The Odisha government has committed an outlay of Rs 500 crore to ensure banking services reach every gram panchayat through CSP outlets. To make banking services easily accessible, the state government has collaborated with six public sector banks, namely State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Union Bank of India, UCO Bank, Bank of India, and Bank of Baroda.

“Ama Bank” will offer a range of banking services, including deposits, advances, remittances, loans, Aadhaar-enabled payment systems, credit linkage to Self-Help Groups (SHGs), and coverage under social security schemes.

Finance Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh highlighted Odisha’s economic growth, declaring, “Odisha will be the first state in the country without having a single unbanked gram panchayat.” The state, with 6,798 gram panchayats, currently has 65% (4,373 gram panchayats) categorized as unbanked. The Ama Bank scheme will be implemented in a phased manner, with the goal of covering all unbanked gram panchayats within the current financial year 2023-24.

Under this visionary scheme, the government will provide rent-free banking spaces in all gram panchayats for a period of five years. In the initial phase, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated 750 CSP Plus outlets, covering all 30 districts of Odisha. The government is committed to providing the necessary infrastructure, including electricity and internet, for the smooth functioning of these banking outlets.

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