GUWAHATI, Dec 18: United Bank of India (UBI) is now working on new plans for the ailing tea sector in Assam.
�We had a detailed discussion on the current tea scenario of the State and accordingly, we are working on introducing new schemes which include cash management, especially for the tea garden labourers and extending credit to the tea gardens,� Bhaskar Sen, Chairman & Managing Director of UBI, told this correspondent today. He, however, said that it would require some time for executing the plans.
Saying UBI has been playing a key role in the growth of the tea sector, he informed that the bank had disbursed credit to the tune of Rs 400 crore so far to 126 gardens in Assam.
Asked about his roadmap for the North-east, the UBI chief revealed that he is planning to open new branches to cover unbanked areas, besides opening more ATMs to reduce the pressure on branches.
�In Assam, we have 187 branches so far and we are planning to expand our presence here by adding three new branches by this fiscal-end. Moreover, around 447 new ATMs will be opened across the country soon,� Sen said before ending his three-day visit to the North-east.
The volume of business of UBI has been growing at a healthy rate for the last couple of years in Assam. According to available data, the total volume of business of the bank stands at over Rs 10,000 crore in the State, of which advance is Rs 3,360 crore. On the other hand, lending to the agriculture sector is Rs 1,076 crore, which is also above the national average.
Sen further informed that the bank would continue to focus on Micro Small and Medium Enterprie (MSME) sector considering its high growth potential.
Replying to a question about weak financial health of the banks, he admitted that several macro-economic factors are responsible for this. �There is no appetite for credit and asset quality of the banks is deteriorating. I hope the situation will improve gradually,� he said.