New Delhi: The burden of Electoral Bonds issued for giving donations to political parties is falling into the pocket of taxpayers. The central government has paid Rs 9.53 crore as a commission to the State Bank of India (SBI) from taxpayers’ money for printing these electoral bonds.
In response to an RTI query filed by Commodore Lokesh K Batra (Retd), the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance informed that the government has so far spent Rs 7.63 crore for the sale of electoral bonds in 22 phases. This amount is given as a commission to SBI. In fact, the State Bank of India is the only bank authorized to issue Electoral Bonds (EB) to political parties. The other amount of Rs 1.90 crore including GST has been imposed on the government for the printing of electoral bonds.
Since the launch of the electoral bond scheme in 2018, parties have received Rs 10,791 crore as donations in 22 phases, according to an RTI reply. Political parties received Rs 545 crore in the 22nd sale of electoral bonds between October 1 and 10 ahead of the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, according to the data released by SBI. Political parties received EBs worth Rs 389.50 crore from donors in the last sale in July this year.
The provision of the EB scheme is only for those political parties which have got at least one percent of the votes in the last general election. These parties are eligible to receive electoral bonds to the Lok Sabha or the Legislative Assembly, as the case may be. Interestingly, major political parties have not disclosed the amount received through electoral bonds under the scheme.
Political parties received Rs 1,056.73 crore through electoral bonds in 2018, according to SBI data. In 2019, this amount increased to Rs 5,071.99 crore. After this, Rs 363.96 crore was given in 2020, Rs 1502.29 crore in 2021, and Rs 2,797 crore in 2022 as disclosed by the Bank authorities.