The government has decided to set a ceiling for investments in different savings tools and automate the system in a bid to stop abuse and pass the benefits on to target groups.
"We are working toward automating all savings instruments, for there must be a limit on investment. Primarily, we have decided to set a maximum limit of Tk50 lakh for a person," said Shamsunnahar Begum, director general of the Directorate of the National Savings.
However, a pensioner can invest a maximum of Tk1 crore under a single name, she said.
Earlier, a person could invest a maximum amount in multiple schemes. But now, he or she cannot invest more than Tk50 lakh, no matter into how many schemes they put their money.
Shamsunnahar said the decision was made following a series of meetings of a government-formed committee on formulating a comprehensive guideline for investment in national savings schemes. She is a member of the committee.
High interest rates on savings tools and post office savings banks have turned into a major topic of discussion after the government's decision to cap bank deposits and lending rate at 6 percent and 9 percent respectively. Accordingly, the government last week halved the interest rate on postal savings in order to adjust the rate with that of the banks.
Though the interest rate on different savings schemes remains unchanged, it has been limited by putting some conditions, such as tax identification numbers and no cash transactions.
From July to December of fiscal 2019-20, total sale of all kind of savings instruments was Tk34,211 crore while repayment was Tk28,778 crore.
The latest move will further reduce people's appetite for government savings instruments.
Now 11 kinds of national savings schemes are available. Of them, only four schemes – Poribar Sanchayapatra, 5-year Bangladesh Sanchayapatra, 3-monthly profit basis Sanchayapatra and Pensioner Sanchayapatra - are under automation system. Every one of these schemes has a separate investment limit and a person can buy all schemes at their limit legally.
But now the maximum limit has been set at Tk50 lakh together.
In five years, with Bangladesh Sanchayapatra and 3-monthly profit basis Sanchayapatra, an individual can invest a maximum of Tk30 lakh and jointly it can be Tk60 lakh, in Pensioner Sanchayapatra the maximum is Tk50 lakh, and a maximum of Tk45 lakh is in Poribar Sanchayapatra.
From July 1 the government brought these four kind of savings schemes under automation and from that period an individual can invest a maximum of Tk50 lakh and a pensioner can invest a maximum of Tk1 crore.
Shamsunnahar said the committee had been trying to bring postal term deposit, savings deposit, postal insurance, wage earners bond, US dollar premium bond and US dollar investment bond into the automation process. Only prize bonds will be excluded from the automation.
It may be noted that just a week after drastically cutting interest rates on post office savings, the government had hinted at a reconsideration of the decision amid widespread criticism.