The sale of National Savings Certificates (NSC) in the first 11 months of just-concluded Fiscal Year 2016-17 crossed the target by around 240%.
According to the latest data of National Savings Department (NSD) revealed on Tuesday, from July to May of the outgoing fiscal year the government had sold savings certificates amounting to Tk46,967 crore while the target set for the fiscal year was Tk19,610 crore.
In May of FY’17, the sale of savings certificates amounted to Tk4,869, a Tk1,264 crore increase, compared to the same period a year ago that sold the savings instruments worth Tk3,605 crore.
In the month of May alone, the government sold NSC of Tk4,86 crore while the sales in the month of June are expected to be doubled, NSD officials apprehended.
In June, a large number of people lined in front of the central bank, other commercial banks, Post Office and NSD centre to buy savings certificates after Finance Minister AMA Muhith hinted at decreasing the interest rate from the current fiscal year.
Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, economists have expressed concern over the increased sales of NSC. They slammed the government for depending on NSC sale rather than borrowing from other banks.
Former chief economist of Bangladesh Bank Biru Paksha Paul told the Dhaka Tribune, “If you look at the bank loan interest rate, it is almost half the amount of the savings certificates.”
Now the government can take short term loan from banks at 2.86% interest rate and long-term loan at less than 7% interest rate, but it is paying between 11.04% and 11.76% interest rate on the sale of savings certificates.
The government financing to the NSC sales is the most expensive financing in the Indian sub-continent, he said.
“I have already said several times that it is the most expensive financing and self-destructive strategy. The interest liability restricted the development budget as well as affected the banking sector.”
The principal reason behind the excess liquidity in the banking sector is the higher interest rate on NSC, according to Paul.
He suggested the government decrease the interest rate and borrow from the banks to cover the budget deficit.
Asked about exceeding the total fiscal year target by 240% in 11 months, he said the government always sets an unrealistic target.
“In June of FY’17, the sales would cross Tk50,000 crore while the government set only Tk19,610 crore.”
If the government does not decrease the interest rate on savings certificates, the sale would hit Tk60,000 crore in the current fiscal year, added the economist.
Decision on NSC interest rate after 15 July
The government generally depends on NSC sale to meet the budget deficit, but it has now become a burden for the government as people have been more interested in buying the NSCs for an uncertainty in the share market and lower interest rate on bank deposit.
During FY’11, the government could not reach the sales target, but after the crash in stock market in 2012, the government increased the NSC interest rate in line with the bank deposit rate.
After that the bank deposit interest rate came down, but the government only decreased the interest rate once in 2015. “On May 23 in 2015, the government decreased the interest rate in different schemes.”
According to the latest decision, the interest rate on family savings certificate is fixed at 11.52% which was 13.4% previously. Pensioner savings certificate rate was fixed at 11.76% instead of previous 13.19%.
Consequently, the postal savings certificate rate was fixed at 11.28%, which was 13.24%, while five-year savings certificate rate was fixed at 11.28% in lieu of 13.19% and the three-months scheme of savings certificate rate was fixed at 11.04%, which was 12.59% previously.
Meanwhile, the government has planned to decrease the savings certificate interest again.
AMA Muhith in his budget speech declared that the interest rates of NSC would be decreased from this month. Earlier, he also hinted the same in a meeting with leaders of Dhaka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) on May 21.
According to the Finance Ministry sources, the decision of lowering the NSC interest rate as well as the modified sales regulations would be taken after July 15.
The new interest rate and regulations would be executed since the date of passing the order.