Kolkata: West Bengal is planning to start a social security scheme for depositors and investors to ensure proper return of public money following the Saradha chit fund mess, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said in Kolkata on Wednesday. "In the wake of growing financial insecurity, we are thinking of a social security scheme. It will ensure proper safety of public money and ensure safe and proper return. We will shortly put out a proposal on the website of the finance department to seek public comments," Banerjee told reporters in Kolkata.
She said that after seeking public opinion, the government will finalise the scheme and subsequently pass a law. "When there is a people's government, it has accountability towards them. People have been subjected to atrocities by these chit funds," she said.
"People want to keep their money with insurance companies, post offices and banks. But sometimes they have to suffer atrocities from such institutions. But people trust the government when it takes responsibility because there is economic security involved and they get their money back."
"We won't be able to give a high interest rate because we do not have the capacity. But investors will get their money back," she said. Economists were, however, divided on the move. Indian Statistical Institute professor and West Bengal Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation chairman Abhirup Sarkar saw merit.
"Banking service is yet to reach many rural areas, Earlier the post offices also used to give some deposits. But post offices have now lost their sheen due to low returns. Utilising the situation, the cheats have entered the market. It is the state's responsibility to fill the vacancy."
Another economist Sumon Mukhopadhyay said the government should spell out how it proposes to give more attractive returns to the people. "If they invest in agriculture and industry, they can't give such high returns."
Former professor of Indian Statistical Institute Dipankar Bhattacharya echoed Mukhopadhyay. "How will the government give returns at a rate higher than the banks and post offices. Where will they invest the funds," he asked.