The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Banks see gold in stamp sales

Mumbai, Nov. 18: Stung by the multi-crore counterfeit stamp scam, the Maharashtra government is drawing up a plan that will see banks vending stamp papers as early as January.

If all goes to script, it will be the first state to retail of stamp paper through banks, helping the government in widening the network from where these are were sold.

A meeting organised by the Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry evoked strong response from banks to the plan. “The response from banks was tremendous,” the honorary secretary of MCHI said here today.

At the closed-door meeting in Mumbai’s Ambassador Hotel today, 35 leading banks, including nationalised and foreign ones like StanChart, jumped to the idea. Senior government officials were also present.

“The plan is at an advanced stage,” Nitin Kareer, inspector-general of registration and chief controller of stamps, said. “The sale of counterfeit stamp paper by vendors has become a breeding ground for corruption.”

Kareer, who was keen to rope in post offices in vending and franking stamp paper, said the committee of bankers looking at the idea will table a concept paper on Monday.

Banks are learnt to have wanted a 3 per cent commission for selling stamp-papers, the amount that was being given to vendors. However, the state government is insisting on a 1 per cent fee, saying it is a reasonable margin. Banks are believed to have agreed to this, and to furnish bank guarantees for the licence.

For banks, selling stamp-paper is a new revenue source, says Sunil Mantri, CEO of Mantri group, a leading construction firm. “They will become a one-stop shop for customers since they can provide housing finance and stamp duties under one roof,” he added.

Mantri said he was not sure if Kareer’s plan to get post offices along side banks in stamp-paper retail will work. “Post offices have too much handle anyway,” he added.

Banks can even designate certain branches that will vend stamps. They, along with financial institutions, are required to pay stamp duties for a wide range of financial transactions, such as mortgages.

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