[sbinews] SBI to team up with Sikkim Govt to boost SMEs (Businessline)

  • From: "Rajendra S. Pai" <rs.pai@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <sbinews@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 08:55:06 +0530

SBI to team up with Sikkim Govt to boost SMEs
Nilanjan Dey
Recently in Gangtok

STATE Bank of India has decided to encourage small and marginal enterprises
in Sikkim's traditionally natural resources-based economy. It plans to team
up with the State Government to promote emerging industries such as
floriculture, dairy and healthcare.

Local SBI officials underline the prospects of agri-forestry and allied
activities, which are expected to generate considerable revenues and create
fresh employment opportunities in future. They also feel that the bank will
be able to tap these sectors more aggressively in the days to come.

It may be pointed out that Sikkim has been stressing a lot on
ecologically-friendly industries, an issue that is currently being espoused
strongly by the Chamling Government in the State. While traditional forms of
agriculture constitute the base of the local economy, special efforts are
being made to produce cash crops such as cardamom and ginger.

According to Mr B. Roychoudhury, DGM, the bank is also eyeing possibilities
of doing more business in the region after the Nathula Pass is opened up. "A
link to the Chinese market will usher in new opportunities for a bank such
as ours," he told a group of visiting newspersons.

The inclusion of Sikkim in the North-East Industrial Policy is also being
welcomed by the banking fraternity. The Indian Government recently extended
the policy to the hilly State; the latter too has uncovered a package of
incentives for investors. SBI is of the view that the package will help
promote industrial activity. In this connection, bankers point out that the
State has already attracted a number of private sector players. These
include companies that produce mattresses and herbal products.

Besides SBI, several other banks have lately shown greater interest in the
State and are even considering expansion, it is pointed out. With the local
economy turning around, the prospects of providing retail credit to citizens
are particularly brightening. Incidentally, SBI's own operations in Sikkim
are spread over 26 branches, 23 of which are in rural areas. The bank runs
three ATMs in the State.

Sikkim, already billed as an attractive destination for tourists, hopes to
do better on the tourism/hospitality front. Its achievement here is
reflected in the inflow of more revenues for the State. This, in turn, is
evident from the increase in the disbursement of personal loans by banks,
sources maintained.

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