Ahead of the tabling of Union Budget later this week, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi has written to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman urging her for greater assistance for “Jeevika” self-help groups which provide sustenance to about 10 million rural women in the state.
“Jeevika” is a World Bank aided livelihood project run by the Department of Rural Development with the objective of social and economic empowerment of the rural poor of Bihar.
The senior BJP leader, who holds finance portfolio in the Nitish Kumar government, has said loan repayment rate was 99.5 per cent for the Jeevika SHGs, and demanded a hike in facilities that are extended to these.
The demands raised in the letter included raising the cap on loans given by banks and financial institutions from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh and increasing the limit on “revolving funds” from Rs 15,000 to Rs 50,000.
Modi has also requested her that loans be extended at modest interest rates of “6-7 per cent for SHGs in 17 most backward districts” while in the remaining ones it could be 10-12 per cent.
The Deputy CM has also suggested that SHGs repaying their debts on time be incentivized with interest rates being “lowered to three per cent”.
He demanded that the overdraft facility of Rs 10,000 be made available to all family members of women associated with these SHGs. At present, the facility is available for only one family member.
Modi also demanded that facilities such as computers, tablets and printers be provided to these SHGs which would help members in carrying out financial transactions and remain updated on “agricultural productivity and market-related information”.
“All these measures will be helpful in achieving the objective of doubling the income of the rural population,” Modi claimed.