Not a single electoral bond in the denomination of Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000 was purchased when the State Bank of India opened the fourth cycle of the scheme from July 2 to July 11, data analysed by data journalism website Factly has revealed. Of the bonds purchased, 99.7% were in the denomination of Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore.
These bonds are monetary instruments that any citizen can buy from the State Bank of India and then give to a political party, which is free to redeem the bond for money. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced this scheme in his Budget speech in 2017, stating that the government wants to clean up political funding and make it a transparent process. The bank started selling them from March this year.
However, the entire process is anonymous since no one is required to declare their purchase of these bonds and political parties do not need to declare the source of the money. The only check is that the money is unlikely to be “black” since it has to be given by cheque.
Data analysed for the months of March, April, May and July indicate that there is no demand for bonds of lower denominations, the report said. While bonds of Rs 1 crore denomination accounted for Rs 412 crore, or 87.5% of the total value purchased, Rs 10-lakh bonds accounted for Rs 58.3 crore, or 12.4% of the total value. Together, they account for more than 99.9% of total value of bonds purchased till date.
This indicates that common citizens may not be purchasing these monetary instruments. “It is highly likely that the Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore denomination are purchased by corporates than individuals,” Factly.in reported. “There is no concrete information on the type of purchasers since SBI has refused to share such information.”
According to the report, both the number and the value of bonds purchased have reduced with each cycle. Compared to 520 bonds that were bought in March, only 82 were purchased last month. In terms of the total value, July accounted for only Rs 32.5 crore while Rs 222-crore worth of these monetary instruments were purchased in March.
The electoral bonds will go on sale again in October in the State Bank of India’s branches in Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Gandhinagar, Chandigarh, Bhopal, Jaipur, Lucknow and Jaipur. Among these branches, the bonds have been purchased only in New Delhi, Gandhinagar, Mumbai, Guwahati and Kolkata, Factly.in reported.