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Govt savings scheme delay

Calcutta, Oct. 1: The Bengal government’s proposed Safe Savings Scheme (3S) is set to miss the October 5 launch deadline laid down by Mamata Banerjee as the state is yet to secure the Reserve Bank of India’s clearance.

The chief minister had announced on September 5 that the government would launch a deposit scheme to curb the menace of sham funds-mobilising companies. She had set October 5 as the roll-out date.

Senior Writers’ officials said the deadline would most likely be missed as the West Bengal Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (WBIDFC), which will run the scheme, is yet to get the necessary clearance from the RBI.

“The WBIDFC has the approval of the RBI to tap the market for funds…. But it has to secure a fresh approval to start a savings scheme,” a senior government official said.

The officials said the WBIDFC had applied for the approval from the RBI about two weeks ago.

“The apex bank is likely to go through the books of the WBIDFC and check its financial position, assets and liabilities,” another official said.

The officials said they were confident of getting the RBI’s nod as the WBIDFC was among the “very few” profitable government corporations.

“We think the clearance will come after the Pujas,” an official said.

According to the plan, 3S will be operated in collaboration with four nationalised banks — the State Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, UCO Bank and the United Bank of India.

The Bengal government will collect deposits through the four banks using small savings agents, who sell post office and bank schemes, and return the money on maturity.

“Two other states — Tamil Nadu and Kerala — run such schemes. While the Tamil Nadu government mobilises money through corporate deposits, the Kerala government has its own savings scheme,” an official said.

Although the RBI has been prodding the Kerala government to disband the scheme, the Bengal government is confident about getting the apex bank’s nod.

The rate of interest on the fixed deposits will be on a par with banks. The state government has also been exploring the option of offering some additional advantages such as accidental insurance coverage to make the scheme popular.

“The RBI may come up with some recommendations on how to run the scheme and we will tweak the structure accordingly,” an official said.

According to the plan, an individual can deposit between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1 lakh. There will be a lock-in period of three months, after which the money can be withdrawn. In case of a family, the investment ceiling will go up to Rs 5 lakh.