Money & Banking

Poor people rely more on post-offices for their savings: SBI report

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on April 17, 2021

Savings Bank

Shift to bank deposits when incomes rise

Post-Office savings deposits are negatively correlated to per capita income while bank deposits are positively correlated with per capita income, according to State Bank of India’s (SBI) economic research report “Ecowrap”.

This indicate that poor people are more reliant on post-offices for their savings and when the income increase they shift to bank deposits first and not to financial products,as per the report put together by SBI’s Economic Research Department.

“That’s why the proportion of post-office deposits in Maharashtra & Delhi, where per capita income is very high is only 60 per cent.

“In states with low per capita income like West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar, the elderly population of 60 plus has a clear preference to invest in post office saving deposits,”Soumya Kanti Ghosh, Group Chief Economic Adviser, SBI, said.

Referring to the trend of last 20 years data on gross small savings collections, the report noted that there is a structural break in 2008-09. In particular, the share of different states in gross small saving collections were declining till the global financial crisis.

However, post the financial crisis in 2008, there has been a significant jump in preference for post office savings. This jump is maximum in low income states like West Bengal and even in high income states like Maharashtra, the report added.

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Lack of financial literacy

Ghosh observed that the huge post-office collections in states like West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh and the preponderance of Kisan Vikas Patras indicate the lack of financial literacy for the products such as mutual funds.

“Particularly in West Bengal, sometimes, the left of political ideology that everything that market does is bad in fact results in asymmetric results with poor people investing more in chit funds, the live example of this is the ₹20,000-30,000 crore Saradha scam.

“Most of the times these types of scams are also the product of political dispensation,” Ghosh said.

He emphasised that the Government has taken the best decision of not changing the rates on small saving schemes as the country is currently going through an unprecedented pandemic crisis.

Lock into the Post-Office Senior Citizens Savings Scheme

Protecting seniors interest

To further improve the economic condition of senior citizens, the report recommended giving full tax rebate on the interest amount up to a threshold level on the Senior Citizens Savings Scheme (SCSS). This will have nominal impact on the exchequer.

Under SCSS, a senior citizen can deposit ₹15 lakh and the current interest rate is 7.4 per cent. However, the interest on SCSS is fully taxable (the interest amount for ₹1 lakh deposit for 5 years is around ₹51,000 which is taxable). The February 2020 outstanding under SCSS was ₹73,725 crore.

The report suggested that an age-wise interest rate structure should be ushered in, with rates linked to long-term bank deposit rates till a certain age group, and offering a higher than market rate over that age group.

“This could, in one go, serve the multiple purposes of ensuring a lower lending rate structure, adequate returns for senior citizens, lower interest expenditure and an alternative to floating rate deposits,” Ghosh said.

As Small Savings Scheme (SSS) rates are adjusted in every quarter, the report said the Government should ideally remove the 15-year lock-in period for Public Provident Fund (PPF) and give the investors the option to withdraw their money within a stipulated time with some sort of disincentive

Published on April 17, 2021

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