New Delhi [India], April 1 (ANI): The Congress on Thursday alleged that the central government has withdrawn its order of lowering the rate of interest on small savings schemes with elections in "hindsight".
On Wednesday, the government had announced steep cuts in interest rates of small saving schemes, including the PPF and NSC. That order has now been withdrawn, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced on Thursday morning, saying the order was issued "by oversight".
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra alluded that it was the ongoing assembly elections that prompted Sitharaman to maintain the same rate of interest on savings schemes rather than lowering it.
"Really N Sitharaman "oversight" in issuing the order to decrease interest rates on GOI schemes or election driven "hindsight" in withdrawing it?" tweeted Priyanka.
"Interest rates of small savings schemes of GoI shall continue to be at the rates which existed in the last quarter of 2020-2021, ie, rates that prevailed as of March 2021. Orders issued by oversight shall be withdrawn," Sitharaman tweeted earlier in the day.
Congress leader Chidambaram alleged that Sitharaman's claim of the decision of lowering interest rates on small savings schemes being an "inadvertent error" is baseless, pointing out that such announcement "for the next quarter is a regular exercise".
"Announcement of interest rates on savings instruments for the next quarter is a regular exercise. There is nothing "inadvertent" about its release on 31st March," he tweeted.
"The BJP government had decided to launch another assault on the middle class by slashing the interest rates and profiting itself. When caught, the FM is putting forward the lame excuse of "inadvertent error"," he added.
Chidambaram added that the current interest rate on saving schemes is still lower than the inflation rate and thus "hitting the savers and the middle class below the belt".
"When inflation is at about 6 per cent and expected to rise, the BJP government is offering interest rates below 6 per cent hitting the savers and the middle class below the belt," the Congress leader said.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O'Brien also took to Twitter slamming the PM Narendra Modi-Amit Shah combine saying, "Egg on the face again. Because MO-SHA too busy throwing petals from trucks and cracking April Fool jokes of false promises at election rallies."
According to an office memorandum of the finance ministry issued on Wednesday, the rate of interest for savings deposits was reduced from 4 per cent to 3.5 per cent annually.
The rate of interest for the Sukanya Samriddhi Account Scheme was also reduced from 7.6 to 6.9 per cent.
The other schemes (with annual compounding frequency) for which interest was reduced include Public Provident Fund (reduced from 7.1 to 6.4 per cent) and for National Savings Certificate (6.8 to 5.9 per cent). The rate of interest was also reduced for the Senior Citizen Savings Scheme, Kisan Vikas Patra and the five-year recurring deposit. (ANI)