Fin Min seeks more time to provide electoral bonds info

RTI provides details of electoral bond sale; Finance Ministry seeks more time to place it in Parliament

TMC MP Sen had sought details about the sale of bonds, denomination wise and branch wise details, its encashment and which parties redeemed it

Representative Image. Credit: iStockPhoto

The 15th and 16th phase sale of electoral bonds ended months ago with people accessing information about it through the RTI route but when a Rajya Sabha MP sought details, the Ministry of Finance told the Parliament that it will take more time to furnish details.

A series of questions on electoral bond sale were put to the government by Trinamool Congress' Rajya Sabha MP Santanu Sen during the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament and the question came up for answering on Tuesday.

Sen had sought details about the sale of bonds, denomination wise and branch wise details, its encashment and which parties redeemed it, number of bonds printed and expenditure since 2018, when the scheme was launched, as well as the Commission earned by the SBI, which has been mandated to sell the bonds.

Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Choudhary said in a written reply to the West Bengal MP, "the government seeks more time to furnish the replies."

The 15th phase of electoral bond sales was between January 1 and January 10 while the 16th phase was between April 1 and 10, when Assembly polls to five states, including West Bengal and several people, including transparency activist Lokesh Batra, received detailed response from the Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance as well as the SBI.

Batra had received the response for his RTI on the 15th phase on February 17 from the Department of Economic Affairs, which had forwarded a letter SBI sent to it on January 27. He also received a response for the 16th phase on April 27 from the SBI.

The Ministry's response has not gone down well with Sen. "The government does not want to place in Parliament the information it already has. They are employing delay tactics. I am planning to write to the Rajya Sabha Chairman regarding the Ministry not providing details," he told DH.

The RTI response showed that electoral bonds worth Rs 42.10 crore were sold in the 15th phase while it rose to Rs 695.34 crore three months later in the 16th phase. In the 15th phase, Rs 42.07 crore worth bonds were redeemed while in the 16th phase, only two bonds worth Rs 1,000 each were not redeemed.

In the 16th phase, Rs 671 crore came through bonds with a face value of Rs one crore while Rs 23.70 crore bonds came with a face value of Rs 10 lakh and Rs 64 lakh bonds with a face value of Rs one lakh, the RTI had said.

During this sale in April, SBI’s Kolkata Main branch issued bonds worth Rs 176.19 crore, New Delhi Main branch Rs 167.50 crore, Chennai Main branch Rs 141.50 crore and Mumbai Main branch Rs 91.50 crore.

When it comes encashing, bonds worth Rs 350.60 crore were encashed at the New Delhi Main branch, Rs 116 crore bond by the Bhubaneswar Main branch, Rs 106 crore bonds by Chennai Main branch, Rs 63.50 crore by Hyderabad Main branch and Rs 55.44 crore by the Kolkata Main branch.

The RTIs had also provided details about the commission earned by SBI, which is the only bank mandated to sell and redeem electoral bonds. In the 15th phase, it earned Rs 2.76 lakh without GST while it was Rs 18.40 lakh in the 14th phase.

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