The state government would launch a small savings scheme for the marginalised sections of the society from October 5 to counter ponzi schemes, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday.
Even though the scheme is supposed to combat the menace of chit funds in the state, which have crippled several families since the meltdown of the Saradha Group, the chief minister’s hurried-announcement triggered more questions than answers.
“It would be termed ‘Safe Savings Scheme’ or ‘3S’ and would become an alternative to chit funds as the money would be safe here and people won’t be cheated. We would be launching it on October 5,” Mamata said at the state secretariat.
The West Bengal Financial Development Corporation would run the scheme through four nationalised banks - State Bank of India, United Bank of India, UCO Bank and Allahabad Bank. Other banks may join later.
“An individual would be able to deposit any amount ranging from Rs 1,000 to R5 lakh and a family would be able to deposit up to Rs 5 lakh,” she said.
The term of deposit would start from one year and would go up to five years.
But people would be able to withdraw their money even after three months.
“The rate of interest would be the same as in banks. Citizens will have to deposit and withdraw their money through banks only,” the chief minister added.
Financial experts such as Ajitava Roychoudhury and Dipankar Dasgupta, however, raised several questions over the efficacy of the new scheme.
“If people need to deposit their money through banks and the scheme offers the same rate of interest as banks, why would people go for it? What is the difference?” asked Dasgupta.
State finance minister Amit Mitra failed to come up with any satisfactory answers either.
All he could say was, “This is a government scheme and the money would be safe here. There are several villages where there are no banks. We would try to open banks in these areas and put in place a system so that people can deposit their money.”