Govt to Register Prize Bonds Worth $7 Billion

The government has decided to register prize bonds of all denominations worth US$7 billion as a policy decision after expiry of registration date for Rs 40,000 Prize Bonds (Bearer) on March 31, 2020.

Senior officials at the Ministry of Finance told ProPakistani that the government has set a tentative timeline of end-December 2020 for the registration of all prize bonds having different denominations.

This means that when all other prize bonds are registered with the government, the holders of the bonds have to declare his/her computerized national identity card number (CNIC) to the government. Thus, only holders of the registered bonds would be valid for participating in draws and encashments etc.

The withholding tax (15 percent) would be deducted on the winning prize bonds and required to be disclosed in the annual income tax return filer of the winner. Moreover, the trading of such prize bonds in the open markets would not be possible after registration of all prize bonds.

Senior officials at the Ministry of Finance told ProPakistani that the Finance Division has decided to convert all bearer prize bonds into the registered instruments through biometric identity verification and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has already issued a notification on the establishment of the secured transactions collateral registry to enhance SME access to finance.

The registration of all kinds of prize bonds is mainly the responsibility of the Central Directorate of National Savings (CDNS).

They said that the registration of prize bonds is important for improving integrity of the financial sector and establishment of the secured transactions registry will help increase credit to SMEs through securitization of moveable property.

“The prize bonds are open-ended bearer certificates with an outstanding volume of approximately US$7 billion, almost 20 percent of the currency in circulation”, officials disclosed.

These instruments are used to tap long-term retail savings by the government but are often used as a medium of exchange (currency substitute). The unregistered nature of the bonds has significant tax avoidance and money laundering implications. Prize bonds are administered by the Central Directorate of National Savings while policy making responsibility rests with the Finance Division.

Officials said that the Central Directorate of National Savings and Finance Division have commenced the process of registering prize bonds. There are outstanding prize bonds in 8 denominations ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 40,000. The CDNS has started the registration process by moving from the highest to lowest denominations.

The government has planned to register all outstanding prize bonds by end- December 2020. Under the agreed plan and timelines, the CDNs would provide the roadmap and timeline for registering any outstanding unregistered prize bonds by next month.

Finance Division had already asked the investors of Rs 40,000 Prize Bonds (Bearer) to get registered their bonds by March 31, 2020 and decided that no further prize bond draw of Rs 40,000 would take place.

In March 2020, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) had decided that holders of bearer Prize Bonds of Rs 40,000 denomination could avail the following options;

  • Rs 40,000 Bearer Prize Bonds can be converted into Premium Prize Bonds (Registered) through 16 field offices of SBP Banking Services Corporation, and authorised branches of six commercial banks.
  • Conversion of Rs 40,000 bearer Bond to Special Savings Certificates (SSC)/Defence Savings Certificates. Rs 40,000 Bearer Prize Bonds holders availed the opportunity to replace the bonds with Special Saving Certificate and Defence Saving Certificate through the 16 field offices of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Banking Services Corporation, authorised commercial banks and National Savings Centres.

No further prize bond draw of Rs 40,000 shall be held. However, all the prize money claims on the already held draws shall be claimable within the period of six years from the date of respective draw, as per National Prize Bonds Rules, 1999.

The Finance Division further said that Rs 40,000 Premium Prize Bond (Registered) has already been launched w.e.f. March 10, 2017. Registered Prize Bonds offer not only attractive prizes through quarterly draws but also pay reasonable profit through biannual coupon payments.

All the payments are made to investor”s bank account through an automated system. Additionally, prizes on Rs 40,000 Premium Prize Bonds (Registered) are more attractive as compared to bearer bonds.

The registered bonds are secure and not prone to forgery and theft. Finance Division has already discontinued the fresh issuance of Rs 40,000 bearer bonds w.e.f. February 14, 2019.

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