Cong slams Centre for flip-flop on small saving interest rates

New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) The Congress on Thursday launched a direct attack on the ruling BJP-led Central government hours after Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the new interest rates on small savings were being withdrawn.

Slamming the government, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in a tweet in Hindi said, “There was already a loot on petrol and diesel, as soon as the elections are over, the interest of the middle class will be plundered by reducing interest again. This government is of jumlas (rhetoric) and the loot of common people.”

He also used the hashtag of “oversight”.

His remarks came after Sitharaman earlier in the day announced that the government was withdrawing its orders issued by oversight.

In a tweet, Sitharaman said, “Interest rates of small savings schemes of government of India shall continue to be at the rates which existed in the last quarter of 2020-2021, i.e., rates that prevailed as of March 2021. Orders issued by oversight shall be withdrawn”.

Within 24 hours of the announcement, the government withdrew its order of slashing interest rates on small savings schemes, including National Savings Certificates (NSC) and Public Provident Fund (PPF) for the first quarter of 2021-22.

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also hit out at the Finance Minister questioning whether it was really an ‘oversight’ or election driven ‘hindsight’.

Replying to the Finance Minister’s tweet, the Congress leader said, “Really Nirmala Sitharaman ‘oversight’ in issuing the order to decrease interest rates on GOI schemes or election driven ‘hindsight’ in withdrawing it?”

Congress general secretary and national media in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala also slammed the government and said, “Madam Finance Minister, are you running a ‘circus’ or a ‘government’? One can imagine the functioning of economy when such duly approved order affecting crores of people can be issued by an ‘oversight’. Who is the competent authority referred in order?

“You have no moral right to continue as Finance Minister,” Surjewala added.

In a decision, which would have delivered a blow to savers who depend on small savings schemes for income and social security, the Ministry of Finance on Wednesday announced the reduction in the small savings rate to 3.5 per cent for the first quarter of the financial year starting April 1.

The small savings rate during January-March was 4 per cent annually.

Further, in an office memorandum, the Department of Economic Affairs had said that the 1-year time deposit rates has been reduced to 4.4 per cent from 5.5 per cent, and the 2-year, 3-year, 5-year time deposit rates have been cut to 5.0 per cent, 5.1 per cent and 5.8 per cent, respectively, on a quarterly basis.

The 5-year recurring deposit was cut to 5.3 per cent from the previous 5.8 per cent.

Interest rates on Public Provident Fund (PPF), Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY), National Savings Certificate were cut to 6.4 per cent, 6.9 per cent and 5.9 per cent, respectively on an annual basis. The interest rate on Kisan Vikas Patra was decreased to 6.2 per cent.

Now, these changes have been reversed post the government’s decision to withdraw the order.

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