Indian bank to open branch in Kabul

Friday, 20 February 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India's state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) will open a branch in Kabul shortly, the first Indian and the third foreign bank to do so in the Afghan capital.

"We hope to set it up in a couple of months," PNB's overseas operational manager B.M. Sharma told IANS here.

This will be PNB's first full-fledged branch outside India. It has representative offices in London and Almaty, Kazakhstan, and plans to open offices in Shanghai and Dubai.

Most countries stipulate that foreign banks function as representative offices for a year or two before being permitted to open a branch, but Kabul has made an exception in the case of PNB.

Sharma said of the decision to open a branch in Kabul: "There is a lot of reconstruction work going on in Afghanistan and a number of Indian companies are involved in it but there is no organised banking system available. We hope to fill that gap."

India has pledged more than $100 million in humanitarian, financial and project assistance to Afghanistan since the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001. It has also gifted three Airbus aircraft, buses, trucks, medicines and wheat to Kabul.

Only two banks presently operate in Kabul -- Standard Chartered Bank and Habib Bank of Pakistan.

A team of officials from the Reserve Bank of India, the finance ministry and PNB will visit Kabul shortly to finalise the proposal.

Source: IANS
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