NEW DELHI: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has reiterated that the introduction and execution of Aadhaar, demonetisation and goods and services tax have played a critical role in making financial inclusion a reality in India. He also acknowledged that the minor glitches of GST will be addressed by the GST Council.
He added that the Aadhaar legislation will stand the test of constitutionality of using the unique identification number for giving government benefits. Jaitley emphasised that the women were empowered by financial inclusion.
Speaking at the Conclave on Financial Inclusion organised by United Nations in India, Jaitley said about 30 crore families have been given bank accounts since the initiave was launched in September 2014. He said the country’s biggest ever bank account opening drive, Jan Dhan Yojana, was initiated as a platform for financial inclusion.
He pointed out that 42 per cent of households were unbanked before the Jan Dhan Yojana. It aims to give every household access to banking facilities by offering them zero-balance accounts across all commercial banks.
Dismissing the negative comments from opposition and analysts that Jan Dhan accounts had more than 77 per cent zero-balance accounts, Jaitley said it has come down to 20 per cent and even these would become operational once the direct benefit transfer is expanded.
The finance minister reminded the gathering that three months after the scheme was launched, 76.81 per cent of the accounts had zero balance. But, the number of zero-balance accounts has now come down to 20 per cent, he noted. Further, 99.99 per cent of households now have at least one bank account thanks to the successful implementation of the Jan Dhan Yojana.
Jaitley said Aadhaar was an evolving idea under the previous United Progressive Alliance regime. When National Democratic Alliance came to power, it gave the necessary legislative backing to make it purposeful, he noted.