Mumbai: The gold monetisation scheme (GMS), announced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday, would work only for medium- and long-term gold deposits as banks would find it difficult to recover operational costs and hedging costs for short-term deposits, bankers said.
The designated banks are allowed to accept gold deposits as a short-term deposit (one to three years), medium-term (five to seven years) and long-term (12 to 15 years).
Medium-term and long-term deposits would be treated as government borrowings and rate of interest on that will be determined by the government in consultation with RBI, while short-term interest rates would be fixed by individual banks.
Given the costs and assessment of earnings by lending gold, bankers say they would be able to offer an interest rate between one and two per cent on short-term gold deposits.
While all charges like melting and testing in medium- and long-term deposits will be borne by the government, banks will have to shell out the expense for short-term deposits.
Bankers say the cost of melting and testing, indicated in the government notification, for short-term gold deposits of small quantities will not be viable for banks. It would be tough for banks to recover logistics and operational expenses for short-term deposits, public sector bank officials said.
To cut down on the import Bill, RBI allowed individuals, trusts and mutual funds to deposit gold with banks and earn an interest on it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the scheme on November 5.
A senior State Bank of India executive said, “Before firming up interest rates on these deposits, we will have to see costs in refining and operational expenses.”
RBI said the minimum deposit under the scheme should be raw gold equivalent to 30 gram of 995 fineness. The central bank has not fixed a maximum limit for deposit.
There will be a provision for premature withdrawal, subject to a minimum lock-in period and penalty to be determined by individual banks.
A public sector bank official said the existing scheme launched in 1999, run by State Bank of India, was not a success, and added there was “nothing path-breaking” in the new scheme. The new gold monetisation scheme will replace the existing scheme.
The official added the only benefit a customer would have is information about how much real gold he or she has as the deposited gold will be assayed before at the time of deposit. The 1999 scheme has collected only 16 tonnes of gold in 16 years, half of it being from temple trusts and the rest from high net worth individuals.
Another banker, who did not wish to be named, said, “The response is not going to just depend on the features of the schemes. It would have to be marketed, which needs special effort at branch-level and co-ordination across departments like retail business and treasury. This scheme would call for promotional expenditure and some support from the government would help mitigate expenses.”
Bankers expressed the fear the finance ministry might set targets for garnering deposits under the gold monetisation scheme as was the case in Jan Dhan Yojana.
SLR benefit hardly an attraction
A Bank of India executive said the gold gathered through the scheme could be used for meeting statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) requirements. However, it would hardly be an attraction for banks as banks already own a huge portfolio of SLR securities, which at 25 per cent is above the minimum regulatory requirement of 21.5 per cent.
The short-term bank deposits will attract applicable cash reserve ratio and SLR.
The principal and interest of the deposit under the scheme will be denominated in gold. According to a government notification, for medium- and long-term deposits, interest would be paid in rupees, based on the value of gold at the time of making the deposit on September 15.
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