In a move which could disappoint many small savers here in India, Finance Ministry today decided to reduce interest rates on many of its small saving schemes, including Public Provident Fund (PPF), Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY), National Savings Certificate (NSC) and Senior Citizen Savings Scheme (SCSS) among others. These rates will be effective April 1, 2016 and will be subject to a quarterly revision based on a new formula to determine these rates.
Here you have the table having all the small saving schemes with their applicable interest rates and tax benefits for the next financial year 2016-17:
Public Provident Fund (PPF) – Rate Cut from 8.7% to 8.1% – There has been a significant cut in the interest rate offered by PPF, India’s most popular small savings scheme. PPF will earn you 8.10% for the next financial year as compared to 8.7% for the current financial year. However, interest rate on PPF continues to remain tax-exempt on maturity and investment up to Rs. 1,50,000 will keep getting exemption under section 80C.
Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY) – Rate Cut from 9.2% to 8.6% – Government’s pet scheme for girl child, Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, has seen a rate cut to 8.60% from its present rate of 9.20%. But, there is still a gap of 0.50% between this scheme and PPF, which would likely keep its popularity intact.
Interest earned on Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana is also tax-exempt on maturity and investment up to Rs. 1,50,000 will keep getting exemption under section 80C.
Senior Citizens Savings Scheme (SCSS) – Rate Cut from 9.3% to 8.6% – Senior citizens will also feel disappointed as the interest rate on Senior Citizen Savings Scheme has also been reduced to 8.60% from 9.30% earlier. The interest earned on this scheme is taxable and subject to TDS as well. But, the investment made gets you a deduction of up to Rs. 1,50,000 under section 80C.
Post Office Monthly Income Scheme (POMIS) – Rate Cut from 8.4% to 7.8% – Post Office Monthly Income Scheme will also have a steep cut in interest rate from an earlier 8.40% to 7.80% effective April 1. Following this rate cut, Post Office MIS will go out of favour with many of the investors.
National Savings Certificates (NSCs) – Rate Cut from 8.5% to 8.1% – Effective December 20, 2015, the government stopped issuing 10-year NSCs. Now even 5-year NSCs will have a rate cut, from 8.50% to 8.10%. Your investment in NSCs will keep giving you tax exemption under section 80C.
Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) – Tenure Raised from 100 Months to 110 Months – Your investment in KVP was promised to get doubled in 100 months earlier. But, from April 1, you’ll have to wait for 10 months more to get the same benefits. Effectively, this scheme will earn you 7.85% now.
Impact of Rate Rationalisation on Small Savers, Borrowers and Indian Economy
Though the government would be criticised badly for this move and the opposition parties would try to take maximum benefit out of small savers’ emotions, I would term it as one of the best moves by the Modi Government. Why am I saying this? This move will send the right signals to the global investors as well as to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that the government is serious about removing anomalies existent in our systems and also meeting its fiscal deficit target of 3.5%. This move, along with an expected rate cut by the RBI, is going to put more pressure on the lenders to cut lending rates in the system. It will also reduce the borrowing costs of the government, as well as many of the corporates which are currently burdened with high debt in their books.
CPI Inflation, which matters to you and me the most and was ruling in double digits during the UPA tenure, has come down to 5.18% in February 2016. WPI Inflation, which measures wholesale prices of goods and services, has been ruling in the negative zone for a very long time now. This fall in inflation is a result of a slump in the global commodity prices and crude oil prices.
Small savers need to understand that interest rates on deposits and other investments have also come down in the last 2-3 years. During FY 2013-14, our favourite ‘AAA’ rated tax-free bonds carried as high as 9.01% rate of interest. These same ‘AAA’ rated tax-free bonds carried a maximum coupon of 7.69% in the current financial year. So, effectively a fall of 1.32%.
If you compare this fall of 1.32% with a 0.60% reduction in PPF’s rate of interest or 0.40% in NSC’s rate of interest, I think the cut is truly justified. Rest I think it is very difficult to keep everyone happy in the country and at the same time, carry out economic reforms for an overall development.
Ahead of polls in five states in April-May, I would call it a truly bold move by the government. This act of rationalising interest rates will benefit the borrowers immensely, which in turn will create a right balance in the economy.