Is the student credit card system losing its appeal in West Bengal?

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s pet project, the West Bengal Student Credit Card Scheme (WBSCC), appears to be losing appeal among students and their parents who have shown reluctance to participate in a scheme where Banerjee itself should distribute such cards.

The state education department will hold a camp in Kolkata on Thursday, where the chief minister will hand out the cards to the students.

However, with less than 24 hours remaining for the program, the response from students and their tutors has been low.

Education Department sources said that although 18,000 beneficiaries were selected to participate in the program from Thursday to Wednesday afternoon, only 6,000 applied to participate, which is only a third of the targeted slot. .

Department officials at the district level now personally call potential beneficiaries and ask them to attend the program on Thursday.

A senior education department official told IANS on condition of anonymity that the reluctance was likely caused by the large-scale rejection of loan applications under the WBSCC scheme.

“After the program was launched following assembly elections last year, around 1.25 lakh loan applications were received. However, to date, only about 18,000 such loan applications, or only 14% of the total number of applications, have been sanctioned.

“For example, an engineering student who is currently in his third semester applied for a bank loan under the program when he was in the first semester last year, but his request has not yet been sanctioned,” said he declared.

In almost every meeting of the State Bankers Committee (SLBC), state government officials had been pushing for greater bank participation in the WBSCC program.

The state government had assured the bankers that since the loan scheme would contain a guarantee from the state government, there was no possibility of the loans turning into bad debts or non-performing assets (NPAs). . However, all these efforts failed and the banks were reluctant to participate.

Former Secretary of the State Bank of India Staff Association, Ashoke Mukherjee, told IANS that a mere guarantee from the state government is no insurance for loan sanction.

“There have been cases where loans with state government guarantee have become NPAs. Secondly, if the loan amount exceeds a certain limit, there is a collateral guarantee requirement regardless of the guarantee from the state government. Sometimes loan applications are rejected for lack of supporting documents. There can be many reasons for rejection of bank loans,” he said.

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