He may be the richest Hindu deity in the country but when interest rates are rising, He can’t be expected to enjoy his siesta on the bed of serpents.
Lord Venkateshwara, the presiding deity of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) and the incarnation of Vishnu to millions of faithful, has finally woken up to present-day financial realities. And the rich Lord is going to be richer by a whopping Rs 80 crore in 2007-08, thanks to deft management of the TTD’s investment portfolio.
“We pre-closed Rs 1,000 crore worth of fixed deposits (FDs), which was fetching us less than eight per cent interest. Instead, we got them renegotiated at the rate of 11 per cent and more. The highest rate we got is 11.37 per cent,” TTD Chief Accounts Officer, Anita S. Akella told HT.
At any given time, the TTD has hundreds of crores in FDs with public sector banks, bringing varying interest rates. But never in the past were attempts made to squeeze the investments for maximum gains.
Initially, some bankers were upset and even threatened to invoke the penalty clause that is applicable to pre-closure of all term deposits. But Akella stood her ground. Finally, the bankers agreed (TTD funds are the main business for many banks).
That’s not all. After the term deposit gains, the TTD is now having a re-look at the money locked up in Government of India bonds. The bonds fetch the temple an average return of six per cent and taking into account the fact that the TTD is exempt from tax, it works out to eight per cent, which is still much lower than the rates offered by banks. “We are examining the issue,” she said, and added that over Rs 200 crore are invested in bonds.
The interest earned by TTD from financial products accounted for one fourth of the temple’s total income of Rs 780 crore in 2006-07.
Interestingly, Lord Venkateshwara is also known as Vaddikasulaswamy (the Lord of interest). Legend has it that all the money He earns goes into the repayment of the loan he took from Kubera, the celestial cashier, to fund his extravagant marriage to Goddess Padmavathi.