Mumbai, Feb 28 (PTI) Even though there has been progress on financial inclusion in the country, South India continues to be the focus area and there is a need to broaden it to other pockets, ratings agency Crisil said today. Also Read - Kerala Sets up 'Sanitiser Booths' at Schools For Safety of Students as Classes Resume

“The improvement in financial inclusion can be faster if there is sharper focus on enhancing branch and credit penetration beyond south India,” the agency said in a note. Also Read - Poll Dates Announced For 5 Assemblies, Mamata Questions EC | All Major Election Developments in 10 Points

There is a need for policymakers to continue incentivising expansion of branch and credit penetration in districts with low financial inclusion, it recommended. Also Read - Travel Guidelines For Delhi: Tourists Arriving From These States Need to Furnish a Negative COVID-19 Report

The agency also said that there is a need to significantly increase protection-linked insurance and pension schemes for deepening financial inclusion.

Crisil, which scores efforts on financial inclusion in each of the 660 districts using data from the RBI and other bodies, said India’s overall score has improved to 58 for fiscal 2016, from 50.1 three years earlier.

It attributed the surge largely to the Jan Dhan accounts opening drive which was undertaken by the Narendra Modi Government after assuming power in 2014.

While the report names Kerala as the top state when it comes to financial inclusion with a score of 90.9, it does not mention data regarding other states.

On insurance, India had 34 crore policies in force, which is only a fifth of the 165 crore bank deposit accounts, and over 90 per cent of them are linked to savings- linked products, it said.

“There is still a long way to go before India reaches adequate levels of financial inclusion,” its official Pawan Agrawal said, pointing to favourable policy interventions such as MFIs being converted into small finance banks, licensing of payment banks, and advances in use of technology as positives.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.