Miriti (WB), Jan 31 (Agencies): Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said that a target has been set to open at least one bank branch in the 72,000 villages in the country by 2012. This was done in accordance with the Centre's policy to open more banks in rural areas.

The minister made this announcement while speaking at the inauguration function of the 1,574th branch of the United bank of India at Miriti village in the Bolpur sub-division of Birbhum district.

"The target is tough to meet, but the bank authorities have taken the initiative to reach the goal," Mukherjee said and appealed to the villagers, who were present in strength, to repay loans in time.

He reminded the farmers that if they repay loans in time, they will have to pay only five per cent interest, whereas the normal rate is seven per cent.

He also handed over loan sanction letters and financial assistance to some village students.