Rural Credit Delivery System in Maharashtra: A Step Towards Rejuvenation
An investigation into rural credit delivery system in Maharashtra shows slower growth in institutional finances through commercial banks, credit cooperatives, RRBs and LDBs, particularly during the decade of 1991- 2000, which is mainly due to adverse environment created by the financial sector reforms. Due to unfavourable policy framework, the entire rural credit delivery system encompassing rural branches of commercial banks, cooperative credit institutions and RRBs is reduced to a moribund state. High transaction costs and poor repayment performance are the twin root causes of the moribund state of rural credit delivery system. With a view to revive the agricultural credit delivery system, there is need to adopt innovative approaches like linking of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) with mainstream financial institutions. Such linkages are reported to have not only reduced transaction costs but also ensured better repayment performance. One of the recent studies conducted in Maharashtra has shown cent per cent recovery of loans through SHGs despite having excessively high rates of interest (24-36 per cent per annum) on their loan advances. One of the further disquieting features of RFIs in Maharashtra has been the high proportion of NPAs to total assets, particularly of RRBs and SCARDBs, which are estimated to hover around 36-48 per cent during the mid-to late nineties. One of the reasons for such high incidence of NPAs of RFIs has been the familiar practice of debt forgiveness, which eroded repayment and allowed defaulters to scot free with no deterrent reprimand. Political interference in issues of prudent fiscal management has got a lot to do with this unfortunate scenario. In order to rejuvenate rural credit delivery system, the twin problems facing the system, viz., high transaction costs and poor repayment performance, need to be tackled with more fiscal jurisprudence reserving exemplary punishment for willful defaults, especially by large farmers. In fact, insofar as the rural credit delivery system is concerned, the focus should be on strategies that are required for tackling issues such as sustainability and viability, operational efficiency, recovery performance, small farmer coverage and balanced sectoral development.
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