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3S launched with 1 bank

Calcutta, Nov. 6: Mamata Banerjee today inaugurated the government’s Safe Savings Scheme (3S) with only one of the four earmarked nationalised banks on board.

“One major nationalised bank is already with us. We are in the process of talking to others. We hope there will be others soon,” finance minister Amit Mitra said.

The United Bank of India (UBI) is partnering the government in the 3S, devised to shield investors from being duped by deposit-mobilising companies and prevent a rerun of the Saradha-perpetrated default.

Allahabad Bank, UCO Bank and the State Bank of India have not yet agreed to participate in the scheme despite Reserve Bank of India clearance. The government had mentioned all four banks in an advertisement earlier.

Government sources said it was trying its best to involve the other banks in the 3S.

Abhirup Sarkar, the chairman of the West Bengal Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (WBIDFC), said the corporation was in talks with the three banks.

“Discussions are on with the banks that have so far not participated in the scheme. They have sought some clarifications from the RBI and once they get them, we are hopeful they will come on board. We also have the option of approaching other public sector banks that have branches in Bengal,” Sarkar said.

Sources said banks were not showing interest in the scheme because of confusion over what they could get from accounts that were likely to remain dormant.

Once the depositors keep the money in the accounts, the cash will be transferred to the WBIDFC. The corporation will redeposit the money along with interest after terms ranging from three months to five years end.

“The banks want to know what they will get out of the exercise. The WBIDFC has been trying to assure them that the interest will be deposited quarterly so that the accounts don’t become dormant,” a source said.

Around 400 applications have been received by the corporation with a total investment of Rs 8 lakh.

For fixed deposits between Rs 1,000 and Rs 25,000, the interest rate will be 9 per cent up to four years and 9.25 per cent between four and five years.

“The government will not touch your money. It will be with the bank, which will deposit it in your account directly on maturity. We are there for your protection. We will not be utilising your deposits,” Mamata said at the event in Town Hall to inaugurate the 3S.

According to WBIDFC officials, the chief minister meant that the money would be utilised through loans given to government agencies, not to the government directly.

“The loans will be given at a higher rate of interest than what will be paid to investors. The difference between the rates will be used to manage the scheme,” an official said.