April 6, 2017
Nadimul Haque speaks on interest cut in small savings schemes
Thank you Hon. Deputy Chairman Sir.
Sir, the population of senior citizens in our country is 10.38 crore, which is about 8.6 per cent of the total population. Recently, the interest rates on major savings schemes like Public Provident Fund (PPF), Kisan Vikas Patra and Senior Citizens Saving Scheme were cut by 10 basis points. The interest on PPF is now at 7.9 per cent, which is the lowest since 1980.
When bank fixed deposits offer much less returns, these types of savings schemes are the only feasible options for senior citizens and retired persons. The Government has said that this is necessary because Government bond yields fall due to market fluctuations.
Sir, small savings have two important incentives – one, it has tax benefits, and two, it is safe when compared to the market.
This type of market-influenced small savings is hurting investors, especially old people, farmers and women. 1.61 lakh senior citizens’ savings schemes are in operation. About 85 lakh Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana accounts have been opened, with more than 5 lakh in Bengal itself.
This step is causing hardship to them as their savings are being hugely hit. There are apprehensions that these rates will fall more sharply in the future as they are linked to the market.
The Government has also changed the process by revising rates every quarter instead of annual revisions. People are being forced to invest directly in the market, which is risky. The Government is in favour of corporates rather than its people.
Savings are the backbone of the Indian economy, and hence the Government’s policy should be towards encouraging and incentivising the same. I hope the Government will take into consideration the distress caused by this move to the people and take a decision on the revision of rates so that lakhs of people do not lose on their return on savings.
The Government should take the example of West Bengal and set up a toll-free senior citizens’ helpline to raise awareness and help them in such matters. The National Policy for Senior Citizens must be revised at the earliest.
Like the White Revolution and the Pink Revolution, we should introduce a Grey Revolution to protect the senior citizens of our country, who have dedicated their lives to its welfare.
Sir, as many people requested, I want to end with a couplet:
Peeche bandhe hain haat
Magar sakht hain safar
Kis se kahein ki paon se
Kaante nikaal de.