Parliament Passes Chit Funds Bill Proposing To Triple Chit Amounts
A bus conductor displays Indian bank rupee notes for a photograph in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Parliament Passes Chit Funds Bill Proposing To Triple Chit Amounts


Parliament on Thursday passed a bill which seeks to raise the monetary limits for chit funds and commission for the foreman.

The Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by voice vote in Rajya Sabha. The bill got Lok Sabha's nod on Nov. 20.

The maximum chit amount is proposed to be raised to Rs 3 lakh from Rs 1 lakh for those managed by individuals or less than four partners, and from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 18 lakh for firms with four or more partners.

The maximum commission for foreman, who is responsible for managing the chit, is proposed to be raised to 7 percent from 5 percent. The bill also allows the foreman a right to lien against the credit balance from subscribers.

The Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019 also introduces words such as "fraternity fund", "rotating savings" and "credit institution" to make chit funds more respectable, said Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur in his reply to the House on the bill.

The bill provides for substituting terms like 'chit amount', 'dividend' and 'prize amount' with 'gross chit amount', 'share of discount' and 'net chit fund' respectively.

It further proposes to allow subscribers to join the process of drawing chits through video-conferencing. About members' objection to this clause, Thakur told the House that all subscribers should be present at the time of draw of chit fund but if some people are busy or unable to attend those then they should have the option of video conference.

He also told the House that the bill removes the limit of Rs 100 (which was set in 1982), and allows the state governments to specify the base amount over which the provisions of the Act would apply.

Responding to various issues raised by members during the debate, he said chit fund subscribers can opt for insurance but the government cannot make it mandatory as it would add to the cost.

He also said that the bill provides that the chit fund operator has to have secured deposit to the size of the scheme, which is a sufficient safeguard for people subscribing to the scheme.

On compensating poor people from money collected under the goods and services tax (12 percent GST on chit fund), he said that neither I nor Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman present in the House, can do anything about it as it is in the hand of the GST Council.

On the suggestion of Congress leader Digvijay Singh, the minister assured that the central government would soon schedule a meeting of all chief secretaries of states for expediting fraud cases pending with the state-level coordination committees.

Thakur said there is a need to create public awareness movement so that they can differentiate between registered chit fund and unregulated funds or ponzi schemes.

He also said that if somebody says that money would be trebled or quadruple in a short period of time then we should understand that it is fraud. Earlier participating in the debate, Digivijay Singh accused the government of not doing anything for the subscribers but rather increasing the commission of foreman.

"Fraud scheme operators learn from us [false promises] only as we promise that Rs 15 lakh would come into account of all and two crore jobs would be created," Rashtriya Janata Dal’s leader Manoj Jha said.

Also read: Parliament Passes Bill To Protect Rights Of Transgenders

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