The Agència Valenciana Antidespoblament (Avant) has completed its program to install ATMs in rural areas, which in Alicante includes 22 machines that serve a fixed population of 10,000 people, in addition to the visitors that these places receive throughout the year. With this initiative, carried out thanks to an agreement between the Generalitat and Caixabank, the aim is to remove small municipalities from financial exclusion so that it is possible to obtain cash and carry out different basic banking procedures.
The plan includes 135 ATMs throughout the Valencian Community, which benefit more than 65,000 residents of 124 small towns. In recent weeks, the last seven have been awarded. Two will be located in the province of Alicante, in the municipalities of Benasau, in El Comtat, and Murla, in the Marina Alta. According to the same sources, these allocations respond to a redistribution of ATMs that had become vacant due to the resignation of other municipalities provided for in the agreement.
The general director of Avant, Jeannette Segarra, said:
“We are satisfied with the result of this initiative that is allowing us to stop depopulation and that no neighbor or neighbor of the Community is left without enjoying services that are essential, both for people to economically activate these territories”. In addition, she explains that “the culmination of this program is not an end point, but a full stop, so that from this moment on we continue working and advancing in more measures that allow us to improve services and life in small municipalities.”
For each ATM installed and in operation, the Consell invests 14,500 euros per year, which in Avant’s budgets for this 2023 materializes in an item of 1.9 million euros. Segarra defends that, through Avant, the Generalitat has “turned around depopulation policies, which have gone from not existing in 2015 to being a priority area of our action.” The person in charge emphasizes that the Agency’s budget “has grown by 80% since its launch in 2020, with the aim that those people who want to live and make their livelihood from the town can do so with guarantees and minimum quality services.
A dozen more municipalities will be able to benefit from aid against depopulation as the Generalitat softens the conditions. The general director adds that the Generalitat’s initiative to install ATMs has been a pioneer in Spain and Europe and is serving as an example to other communities such as Galicia, Navarra, La Rioja, and Cantabria. These autonomies, she assures her, “want to replicate a measure that has also aroused the interest of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation.”
The 20 ATMs already installed are located in the municipalities of Almudaina, l’Alqueria d’Asnar, l’Atzúbia, Beniardà, Benigembla, Benimeli, Fageca, Famorca, Llíber, Quatretondeta, Ràfol d’Almúnia, Sanet i Negrals and Vall of Laguar. Also, there are in the districts of Setla de Nunyes, in Muro; in El Realengo and San Felipe Neri, in Crevillent; and in El Mudamiento, La Matanza, El Escorratel and Barbarroja, in Orihuela.