In the maiden issue of Electoral Bonds, India sold bonds worth Rs 222 crore, the Parliament was informed on Friday. In order to increase transparency in the electoral process, the government had introduced the bonds in Union Budget 2017.
India is the first country to introduce such a system for electoral funding. These bonds are like promissory notes, unlike other debt instruments. The system allows donors to pay political parties with banks as an intermediary. The maiden sale of these bonds started on March 1 for a period of 10 days at the four main branches of State Bank of India in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and New Delhi.
"The amount collected from the sale of electoral bonds under the first issue of the scheme is Rs 222 crore as on March 9, 2018," said P Radhakrishnan, Minister of State for Finance, in a written reply in Lok Sabha. The interest-free banking instrument were available in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore.
Donors, an Indian citizen or a body incorporated in India, can buy them with a KYC-compliant account and donate the bonds to the political party of their choice. The money can be encashed by the party through its verified account within 15 days.
He added that: "SBI is the only authorised bank to issue and encash the Electoral Bearer Bonds under the scheme." He further added that: "The tenor of electoral bonds is just 15 days. During this period, the amount can be donated to registered political parties, which have secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last Lok Sabha or assembly election."
An eligible political party can encash the bonds through a designated bank account with any authorised bank. "These Bonds are envisaged as an additional banking instrument for giving donations to registered political parties," he added.
An electoral bond will be valid for 15 days from the date of issue. The amount will be credited to the political parties' account on the same day. In case, the bond is deposited after the validity period, no payment will be made.
The minister said the bonds will be available for purchase for a period of 10 days each in January (this time it was done in March), April, July, and October. The Centre shall earmark an additional period of 30 days in the year of general elections.
With PTI inputs