Economy

Senior citizens body seeks govt help for shelter, assured return on deposits

K Ram Kumar Mumbai | Updated on April 09, 2021

Elders are the most affected due to a fall in rates as they largely depend on interest income.

A leading senior citizens’ body wants the Government to set up old age homes in all districts of the country and ensure they are paid a minimum of 8 per cent interest on five- year deposits.

Underscoring that almost 70 per cent of the roughly 14 crore senior citizens belong to the poor category, the All India Senior Citizens’ Confederation (AISCCON) said old age homes must be established in every district as directed in the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.

The Association’s President IM Bhalla and Secretary-General TPR Unny, in a letter to the Prime Minister, Finance Minister and Social Justice and Empowerment Minister, emphasised that the welfare and dignity of senior citizens should include provision for food, housing, clothing, safety, and healthcare, including free of cost treatment at all hospitals.

Further, there should be an upward revision in the current ₹200 per month pension for the poor among the seniors, taking into account the increase in the living cost.

Steady decline in rates

Bhalla and Unny observed that bank fixed deposits’ interest rate declined steadily in the last six years. Senior citizens are the most affected due to this rate cut as they largely depend on interest income to get by in life, they added.

“In 2015, the interest rate for one year on ₹1 lakh was 8.63 per cent and the annual interest income was ₹8,630. In 2021, the interest rate has come down to 5.17 per cent, with a return of ₹5,170 per lakh, thereby registering a fall of ₹3,460 (or 40.09 per cent).

“Similar trend is seen in interest rates on small savings schemes including senior citizen savings schemes during this period,” the AISCCON office-bearers said.

Referring to the continuous rise in prices of essential commodities, Bhalla and Unny assessed that what could have been purchased for ₹8,630 in 2015 can only be bought for ₹12,000 in 2021.

The price of gas cylinder price went up by almost 80 per cent, petroleum products (55 per cent), health insurance premium (250 per cent) and essential household commodities (about 60 per cent) during this period, they added.

Seeks assurance on rates

AISCCON suggested that the minimum interest rate on the five-year senior citizen deposit scheme should be 8 per cent per annum against 7.1 per cent now.

“Interest rates should not go down below 8 per cent and in case the interest rate hardens, then it may be revised upwards.

“There should be a special addition of 2 per cent on the deposits of senior citizens in fixed deposits,” the Association said.

AISCCON wants the Government to implement and operationalise the Senior Citizens Welfare Fund.

Published on April 09, 2021

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