GUWAHATI, Nov 21 - Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today underlined the importance of quick and efficient measures to expedite financial inclusion of tea garden workers as well as to ensure timely disbursal of weekly remuneration to them in a cashless manner.
For the purpose, he has directed the bank authorities to ensure opening of bank accounts of each of the tea garden workers of the State, facilitating disbursal of weekly wages through bank accounts within a fixed time-frame, stated an official press release today.
In a high-level meeting, which was attended by top bank officials and representatives of tea associations, Sonowal said the tea garden workers should not face any inconvenience in drawing their wages on time.
�Banks must put up a system which ensures that the tea garden economy and its network of business do not suffer due to non-availability of adequate fund for payment of wages,� the Chief Minister asserted.
He further said that each bank must take steps for opening of bank accounts of the tea garden workers, who are still left out as per the lists prepared in coordination with the tea garden managements, and start disbursal through such accounts.
The Chief Minister also took stock of the presence of banking institutions in tea garden areas of the State and directed the bank authorities to open sufficient numbers of bank ATMs so that the account holders can transact money locally in a hassle-free manner.
Reiterating that financial literacy amongst tea garden workers is a need of the hour, Sonowal urged the bankers to expedite such literacy programmes in a more intensive way. He further stated that ACMS has great accessibility among the tea communities and it must play a proactive role in educating the garden workers for availing the new modes of financial transaction.
He appreciated the active role played by the banks in tiding over the crisis, especially the issue concerning timely payment of wages to the tea garden workers, which emerged out of demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currencies. He said the �Team Assam� spirit exhibited by the banks needs to be replicated again in putting this new mechanism in place for ushering in cashless economy in the State.
The banking authorities also highly lauded the State Government�s proactive role and novel measures adopted by it for disbursing wages to tea garden workers in the wake of demonetisation. �The Assam Model has received nationwide attention and all the tea garden intensive states are emulating the same in letter and spirit,� commented SBI Chief General Manager PVSNL Murty.
Acknowledging the Chief Minister�s directions and concerns, the banking authorities have unanimously agreed to complete opening of bank accounts of tea garden workers within December 5 next to ensure disbursal of wages through such accounts from December 15 onwards.