Kolkata, April 27 : Giving emphasis on more lending to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), public sector State Bank of India (SBI) will set up four new specialised SME branches in West Bengal, a senior bank official said Friday.

"We are giving more thrust to the small and medium enterprises in Bengal. In that context, we are coming up with four more specialised SME branches in the state," SBI chief general manager (Bengal circle) Surender Kumar told reporters on the sidelines of an interactive session organised by the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BNCCI) here.

Kumar said the new branches would be located at Howrah, Bidhannagar, and south and central Kolkata.

SBI, the biggest lender in the country, already has one such branch in it city head office.

Kumar said he was hopeful that these new branches would be operational within the next six months.

"Our exposure to SMEs (in Bengal circle) is about Rs.1 lakh crore and it has been growing," he said.

The bank was eyeing a 25 percent growth in advances towards SMEs in this financial year, he added.

Bank’s chief general manager (SME) M.K. Nag said the key challenge for SMEs to get credit from banks and other financial institutions was to make a ‘clean’ balance sheet and get rated by a rating agency.

"The rating acts as a benchmark. While it can certainly help in raising funds, it also gives a clear picture to SMEs themselves of their present position and help them grow further in the future," Nag observed.

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