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'Cock and bull story': Chidambaram slams FM after RTI on revision, rollback of interest rate

'Cock and bull story': Chidambaram slams FM after RTI on revision, rollback of interest rate

"Just as I had said, the decision to lower the interest rates on small savings instruments with effect from April 1, 2021 was not an 'inadvertent error' as was claimed by the FM. It was a conscious decision," said P Chidambaram

Chidambaram slams Sitharaman over interest rates Chidambaram slams Sitharaman over interest rates

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram slammed the  government for announcing lower  interest rates on small savings schemes on March 31 and reverting on April 1, barely 12 hours apart. The Congress leader said that the 'inadvertent error' as said by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while rescinding the order is a 'cock and bull story'. He said that the decision 'obviously' came from a 'superior authority'.

"Just as I had said, the decision to lower the interest rates on small savings instruments with effect from April 1, 2021 was not an 'inadvertent error' as was claimed by the FM. It was a conscious decision taken on file and approved/signed by the FM. The story of 'oversight' and 'inadvertent error' was a cock and bull story. The decision to reverse the earlier decision was obviously made on the direction of a 'superior' authority, and the FM meekly complied, and signed that file too! Now, you will know why the Modi government is opposed to the whole RTI idea," said the Congress leader in a series of tweets.

His tweets came after India Today filed an RTI on the same seeking details on how the entire order and the subsequent rescinding took place. The news site asked the Department of Economic Affairs who approved the March 31 order to cut returns for small savings instrument, whether the Finance Ministry's consent was taken before this, whether the ministry was informed of the notification, and whether the PMO was notified about this. The RTI reply stated that the order was approved by the Finance Minister.

When asked for the minutes of the meeting where this was discussed and the names of all those who were present, the reply stated that no such meeting was held.

When asked who took the decision to roll back the cuts on April 1 and who were consulted before the decision, the reply stated that the Finance Minister approved the roll back.

In short, the Finance Minister approved both the cuts and the roll back.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also said, "RTI has provided new insight into so-called 'oversight'."

On March 31, the Finance Ministry announced that interest rates for small savings schemes for the first quarter of the financial year 2021-22 will be cut to 6.4 per cent from 7.1 per cent in the January to March period. At 6.4 per cent it was the lowest in 46 years -- since 1974.

Rescinding the order on April 1, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, "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."

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said that this was not an 'oversight' but an 'election-driven hindsight'.

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