Electoral bonds worth Rs 222 crore were sold in the first nine days of their issue earlier in March, the government told the Lok Sabha on Friday. The first batch of electoral bonds had opened for purchase on March 1 for 10 days.

“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,” Minister of State for Finance P Radhakrishnan said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha, according to PTI.

As many as nine electoral trusts had donated Rs 637 crore to political parties between 2013-’14 and 2016-’17, a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms had said in January. Of these, the BJP received nearly Rs 489 crore, and the Congress over Rs 86 crore. However, in 2016-’17 itself, more than Rs 325 crore were donated to political parties.

On January 2, the Centre notified detailed norms for the use of electoral bonds for the funding of political parties. Donors can buy electoral bonds 40 days a year from specified branches of State Bank of India and then use it within two weeks to donate to a political party.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley first introduced the concept of electoral bonds in his Union Budget speech in February 2017. He had said the measure would bring “greater transparency and accountability” in political funding.

Electoral bonds are interest-free debt instruments that can be bought from certain SBI branches. They will not have the name of the donor. These bonds have a life of only 15 days after being bought.

Electoral bonds can be purchased for 10 days each in January, April, July and October – the first issue for 2018, however, was done in March instead of January. In years when general elections are scheduled, the bonds will be available for an additional 30 days.

Political parties that are registered under the Representation of People Act and got at least 1% votes in the last general or Assembly elections are eligible to receive donations through electoral bonds.