West Bengal’s students’ credit card scheme fails to gain bankers’ confidence

West Bengal Student Credit Card (WBSCC) scheme, launched with a lot of fanfare in June 2021, is yet to win the confidence of the bankers as the actual disbursement of loans have reached just 17 per cent of the applicants since its inception.

The State Level Bankers’ Committee (SLBC), West Bengal, which has representatives from both the bankers operating in the state and the state government government, in its latest meeting conducted on Friday, revealed that since its inception in June last year, different banks have received over 2,20,000 applications for loans under the WBSCC scheme. However, till date little less than 38,000 applicants have been actually granted loans under the scheme, while 21,000 applicants are waiting for the final sanction and disbursement. The remaining applications have been rejected.

In almost every meeting of SLBC, the state government representatives in the committee have complained about the banker’s reluctance in granting loans under the scheme despite it being backed by a guarantee by the state government. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had herself expressed anguish over the insistence by the banks for income certificates of the parents of the students applying for loans under the scheme.

At one point of time, the state government even spoke about withdrawing the different deposits held by the state government, its different bodies and undertaking from those banks who show reluctance in granting loans under the scheme. However, the situation has not improved even after all these as is evident from the figures of the SLBC- West Bengal.

Bankers too have their own logic. According to senior trade union leader from the banking sector and the former national secretary of State Bank of India (SBI) Staff Association, Ashoke Mukherjee, mere state government guarantee is not the absolute factor for sanction of loan, since there are past instances of loans with government guarantees turning into non- performing assets.

“The bank has to be satisfied that the repayment potentials of loans are high and that is why they insist on supporting documents. That is why in case of loan amounts beyond a limit, the banks also ask for collateral security,” he added.

20221224-161203

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