State Bank of India, the country's largest lender, on Sunday announced its largest ever branch expansion programme with the opening of 154 branches and 1,540 ATMs across the country.
At a function in his constituency in Jangipur in West Bengal, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee pressed a button to activate these branches in the presence of State Bank of India chairman O P Bhatt.
SBI has over 10,000 branches, which are grouped in 14 circles.
Speaking at the function, SBI chairman O P Bhatt said he expected interest rates to rising by 25 to 100 basis points in six months if liquidity in the system is not managed well.
"Going ahead, there is a possibility of interest rates going up ... if liquidity is not managed well, when the busy season picks up, that is in the second half of the (fiscal) year," Bhatt said.
He said bank loan growth, which slowed to around 15 per cent in June from about 30 per cent in 2007-08but is expected to pick up by October, putting pressure on banks' finances.