Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena called upon the state and private banks to provide new incentives to attract women to the formal banking sector. Addressing the top executives of all public and private banks at the Temple Trees today (March 7) he pointed out attracting women to the formal banking sector would help to strengthen women’s role in the economy and it would also help them to be free from informal lenders who charge exorbitant interest rates and exploit women.
Senior officials of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) said once a new attractive scheme is announced the CBSL could address the issue of fiscal security and collateral requirements to speedily implement the scheme. International Finance Corporation (IFC) has extended grants for awareness programmes aimed at expanding banking sector into rural areas with especial target of low income households. It was pointed out that thousands of branches of banks across the country could add several million new women in this target group to the list of their account holders in a short time.
The Prime Minister asked the bank executives to expand soft loan schemes to women engaged in small and medium enterprises as well as those in plantation sector. He also stressed the need for the banking sector to support the food security and rural revitalization scheme being implemented in 14,000 Grama Niladari Divisions. He emphasized to the public and private banks the need to prepare a Road Map for this programme. He expressed appreciation over role played by the banks during the economic crisis.
Yadamini Gunawardena MP said the bank must use their networks to make young women aware of the benefits of opening banking accounts so that formal channels could be used to get government welfare facilities including Samurdhi benefits and pensions. He said the available telecommunication space could be used by the banks to expand their digital online banking.
Secretary to the Prime Minister, Anura Dissanayake, Economic Advisor Tennakoon Rusiripala, senior officers of Finance Ministry, Central Bank, senior of state banks and private banks were present at this discussion.