A day after the Finance Ministry notified a lowering of interest rates for Small Savings Schemes, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that this will not be happening. In a tweet on Thursday morning, the Minister said that the earlier order had been "issued by oversight".
"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 Orders issued by oversight shall be withdrawn," she tweeted.
In case you have not followed the story, the government had on Wednesday cut rates by up to 1.1% for the first quarter of 2021-22 in line with falling fixed deposit rates of banks. As per the notification, while the interest rate on Public Provident Fund (PPF) went down to 6.4%, National Savings Certificate (NSC) were now slated to earn 5.9%. This order has now been revoked. As such, the the rate of interest on these will remain unchanged as the last quarter of 2020-2021.
But even as many breathed a sigh of relief, critics and Opposition leaders were vocal in their criticism. While some including Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi questioned how such a thing could be done in "oversight", others wondered if this was supposed to be an unfortunate "April Fool's Day' joke. Many others view as being reluctance to make changes while Assembly elections were underway in several states.
"Really Nirmala Sitharaman, “oversight” in issuing the order to decrease interest rates on GOI schemes or election driven “hindsight” in withdrawing it?" asked Gandhi.
Others still made note of the date of the announcement while hitting out at the Centre. "So, was it an April Fool order?" queried activist and lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
"Happy April Fool’s Day!" exclaimed actor Ranvir Shorey.