Reach Out

Sept 23, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Central Bank governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal has urged the banking community to reach out to the rural poor saying the move would not only help impoverished farmers but enrich the banks themselves. The government and the banking community should aim to improve financial inclusion for vulnerable sections and give opportunities to people, he told the inaugural session of the 19th anniversary convention of the Association of Professional Bankers Friday.

Financial inclusion should include direct loans to vulnerable groups, help build infrastructure in neglected rural areas and take banking products to these areas.

The central bank was keen to introduce futures markets and derivatives products that would help farmers, Cabraal said.

Many rural communities remain vulnerable because of uncertainty over prices, he said.

Farmers get into debt traps at time of harvest when they have a lot of produce but no adequate access to markets.

New financial products should be devised to enable farmers to get reasonable prices for their produce, Cabraal said.

The urban elite should also do more to get the rural poor out of poverty.

“Try not to bargain too much with the roadside v