RS members support bill to regulateunregulated deposits schemes

NEW DELHI, July 29: Cutting across party lines,
members in the Rajya Sabha on Monday supported a bill that
seeks to regulate unregulated deposit schemes in the country
and protect the money of poor depositors.

CPI-M leader Elamaram Karim, however, moved a resolution
opposing the ordinance route taken by the government to bring
this bill just before Lok Sabha polls.

Asserting that he does not question the merit of the
bill, Karim said it was not a good practice to bypass
Parliamentary procedure and bring an ordinance. Every bill
should be debated in Parliament.

The Banning of Unregulated Deposit Scheme Bill, 2019 has
already been passed in the Lok Sabha.

Later, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur moved
the bill for discussion in the Upper House and members from
various parties welcomed it and offered suggestions as well.

Participating in the debate, Suresh Prabhu (BJP) said it
is a comprehensive bill which is a necessity for the economy
as this will help mobilise savings in regulated environment.

Prabhu, however, suggested the Finance Minister look at
Clause 12 in Chapter 5 of the bill “very seriously” to avoid
dichotomy in view of amendments being brought to section 53 of
the IBC law.

Noting that a big challenge before the country was to look
at ways to mobilise savings, the BJP leader said, “China has
50 per cent saving rate in a USD 12.4 trillion economy. It has
USD 6.2 trillion savings that could be brought back into
investment. We have to increase our savings rate.”

Savings can be improved if there are intermediaries like
NBFCs. But intermediaries need to be regulated. And also,
there should be a fine trade off between those who mobilise
deposit and protect the interest of depositors, he added.

AITC member Derek O Brien supported the bill, saying this
is the first bill brought for passage in the House after being
scrutinised by a parliamentary panel.

“None of 14 bills went through parliamentary scrutiny,”
he said.

Brien said it is a water-tight bill that aims to curb
fraudulent practices in ponzi schemes and chit funds as he
mentioned fraud cases like Pearl Chit Fund of Rs 49,000 crore
that affected 5,500 crore depositors and Gujarat’s Oscar Chit
Fund that had deposit from 1.2 lakh people.

T Subbarami Reddy (Cong) supported the bill stressing
that the poor should be protected from unregulated deposit
schemes and norms should be made more stringent.

Currently, the Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) are
in a bad shape because of 2-3 unscrupulous companies and the
government should take steps to address the problems, he said.

Ramnath Thakur (JD-U), Vishambhar Prasad Nishad (SP) and
Prashanta Nanda (BJD) also supported the bill.

Nanda supported the bill, saying such a comprehensive law
is the need of the hour. He said it could hit real estate
developers who are getting money from such unregulated
schemes.

Banda Prakash (TRS) said there is a network of people
taking deposits using commission agents by offering high
interest rates and such funds are invested in real estate.

He lauded the Finance Minister for bringing this bill
that will help safeguard interests of people, especially the
poor, as there is no law to regulate such ponzi schemes.

He called for a regulatory mechanism and collection of
data by the Finance Ministry and states on how much money is
being taken through such deposit schemes. He said there is no
authentic study to measure how much poor people are investing
in these schemes.

K Soma Prasad (CPI-M) said it is high time such a law be
brought that could protect investors and put an end to such
schemes. He said the law could help tackle illicit deposit
companies and regulate them. The CPI-M member noted that most
of the time the poor are being cheated through such schemes.

He, however, expressed apprehensions that the law is
harsh and could provide harsh treatment to people in villages.

“There is ambiguity in the law and there must be clarity
for acceptance of loans for personal exigencies,” he said,
adding the government should ensure maximum publicity to the
law.

Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD) supported the bill but had a word
of caution, saying bureaucracy should not be given so much
power that might create a state within a state, that might
create problems later. He called for action on such deposits
at the beginning itself.

P Wilson (DMK) said Tamil Nadu already has a law to
protect interests of depositors.

He also called for steps to ensure the supremacy of the
legislature and reclaim the space, since the judiciary and the
executive were transgressing. He also called for Bharat Ratan
to DMK leader Karunanidhi. (PTI)