The state government is all set to reduce the interest rates for low-cost housing loans provided by the West Bengal State Co-operative Housing Federation Ltd (WBHOUSFED), a housing finance body under the cooperation department. The government has also decided to increase the health insurance benefit of its ‘Swastha Sathi’ scheme from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh per family per year.
According to state government sources, a notification to this effect will be issued soon.
A senior state cooperation department official said it has been decided that interest rates on housing loans from WBHOUSFED will be slashed by 0.75 to 1 basis points for both individual and cooperative societies.
The maximum loan an individual or cooperative society can avail of from WBHOUSFED is Rs 20 lakh, the current rate of interest rate is 10% for societies and 10.50% for individuals.
“Till now, interest rates for loans from WBHOUSFED were at par and in certain cases slightly higher than those provided by leading banks of the country. But what made WBHOUSFED’s loans attractive in case of low-cost housing was two features. The first feature is relief on stamp duty up to Rs 3.5 lakh on loans availed from it. The second feature is that in case of demise of the loanee member, principal due is automatically treated as repaid. Now, with rates slashed, those availing loans will be further benefited, since these two features will continue at the same time,” said Arup Roy, state co-operation department minister.
“The decision of slashing the interest rate on housing loans from WBHOUSFED has been taken to fulfil the chief minister’s dream for a roof over everybody. We have instructed state cooperative banks for more financial assistance to WBHOUSFED so that the scheme is successful. Development is Trinamool’s only slogan,” Roy added.
Under the second incentive scheme, the limit of benefit under ‘Swastha Sathi’ — a group medical insurance scheme floated by the state government for unorganised sector workers of the state — was raised from the existing limit of Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
“Basic healthcare for secondary and tertiary care (including critical illness), shall be up to Rs 5 lakh per family per annum, for all cases under Swastha Sathi scheme,” said a senior state government official who has seen the draft proposal.
According to the official, with this extension, benefits for those covered under ‘Swastha Sathi’ will be at par with that of the health insurance scheme for state government employees. The premium for ‘Swastha Sathi’ scheme is paid by the state.
With the 2019 Lok Sabha polls round the corner, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had recently said that development works by her government will be the key to Trinamool’s campaign.