West Bengal CM mulls task force to expedite student credit card scheme

Published on : 07:26 PM Nov 24, 2021

Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the West Bengal students’ credit card scheme with lot of fanfare. The main idea behind the scheme is to ensure bank loans for pursuing education at all levels. However, the banks have approved only 16 percent of the total applications. Finding situation grim, the state government has has decided to form a district-wide task force to convince the banks

Kolkata: Soon after becoming the chief minister for a third consecutive term, Mamata Banerjee launched a credit card scheme for students with a lot of fanfare. However, after five months, the banks have approved only 16 per cent of the total applications received on this count. So far, there have been about 27,000 applications under this scheme, out of which the banks have approved only about 4,600 applications.

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In Kolkata, there had been a little over 2,000 applications, out of which only around 500 had been approved by the banks. Understanding that the picture is grim, the state government has decided to form a district-wide task force to tide over the situation. The main assignment of the task force will be to interact with different bank authorities and convince them to approve more applications under this scheme.

The main idea behind the scheme is to ensure bank loans for pursuing education at all levels. The maximum age of the applicant has to be 40 years and the upper ceiling of the loan is Rs10 lakhs. The state government is the guarantor for the loan. Advertisement

ETV Bharat talked to a section of political leaders, economic analysts and former bankers to analyse the situation. Most of them said that the scheme was launched in a hurry because of political compulsions, without consulting the banks in the state-level bankers' committee (SLBC) meetings.

Former journalist and economic analyst, Santanu Sanyal feels that many have the wrong notion that when the state government is the guarantor, chances of loan approval by the banks are guaranteed. “The bank authorities have several experiences where loan accounts with the state government as a guarantor have become non-performing assets.

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"At the same time, the bank authorities are also aware of the cash strapped exchequer of the West Bengal government and its huge accumulated debt. So the banks are applying their standard vetting procedure while examining the loan applications and hence such a huge number of applications under the West Bengal students’ credit card scheme are getting rejected,” Sanyal said.

Also Read: Mamata Banerjee launches Student Credit Card scheme

Former banker and the leader of bank employees’ trade union Ashok Mukherjee said that whether the state government is a guarantor or not, any loan application over and above Rs 4,00,000 needs some kind of collateral security. At the same time before granting approval for education loans, the banks are concerned to make a survey on the market credibility of the course concerned for which the loan application is made or the credibility of the educational institution concerned. So there are main reasons for which loan applications can be rejected even if that application is backed by a state government guarantee,” Mukherjee said.

The state BJP vice-president Jaiprakash Majumdar said that although the students’ credit card scheme was launched with a lot of fanfare, in reality, the students of the state did not benefit from it. “Despite big promises by the chief minister and the state government nothing really has changed for the better for the students,” he said.

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The CPI-M central committee member and the former leader of the Left legislative party in the West Bengal assembly Dr Sujan Chakraborty feels that the banks have real doubts on how effective the state government guarantee is. “I would be really very happy if more students get loans under this scheme. But I feel that since the scheme was launched without any proper planning after the elections, the students are not benefited out of it,” he said.

However, the Trinamool Congress chief whip in the West Bengal assembly, Nirmal Ghosh does not agree to such arguments. According to him, this is the dream project of the chief minister. “The state government is really serious about making this project a success. Of course, we are facing some initial hurdles. The chief minister, who is also the state finance minister, is personally overseeing the matter. Currently, the rate of approval might be just 16 per cent of the total applications. But we are sure that gradually the percentage will improve,” he said.

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