Monday, June 24, 2024

Prize Bonds: Tk 35 crore winnings remain unclaimed

Have you ever bought a national prize bond? If you have, then please match your bond numbers with the draw results again as you could be one of those lucky few who are yet to claim their prize despite winning the lottery.
Recent data from the Department of National Savings showed that about 23 per cent of the winners did not claim their prizes in the last three-and-a-half years. As such, a total of Tk 34.68 crore in prize money remains undisbursed for this period, according to the department.
People whose prize bond numbers matched with the draw results can claim their prize money within two years after the results are published. If you do not want to participate in the draw, you can recollect the bond’s value at any time.
The Bangladesh government initiated such prize bonds in 1974. Each bond had cost between Tk 10 and Tk 50 back then, but the price was revised to Tk 100 in 1995. Commercial banks, Bangladesh Bank and local post offices sell the prize bonds.
Officials of the savings department said ever since the prize bond lottery was launched, a good amount of prize money has remained undisbursed.
Earlier, the lottery results used to be published only in newspapers. Then a search option was added to the Bangladesh Bank website. As such, many people were not aware of the announcement date and a portion of them did not even come to know that they had won.
To reduce the hassle of searching for prize bonds results in newspapers or websites, the government has developed a software called “the Prize Bond Result Inquiry Software (PBRIS)”.
By logging onto http://www.irdbd.online/, prize bond owners can search single or multiple numbers at a time. “The trend is continuing as lots of money remains unclaimed,” said the savings department Director Shah Alam.
About the cause, he said since matching the seven-digit prize bond number with draw results was an arduous job, people were often disinterested. “Sometimes they couldn’t match it the right way. Sometimes they even forgot to check the results at all or lost the prize bonds themselves,” he added.
Rashidul Hasan, an employee of a private company, is one such person who lost interest in checking the results. “I bought four prize bonds worth Tk 100 each some years earlier. At the time, the prize announcement was published in newspapers only but it was hard to know when exactly the announcement would come,” he
said. “I do not regularly read newspapers…on hearing that results have been announced I had to buy newspapers, even if it was two to four days old. After checking in this manner several times, I stopped searching and sold off the prize bonds,” he added.
The savings department announces 3,082 prizes of a total value of Tk 10.88 crore at the end of every quarter (January 31, April 30, July 31, and October 31).
The first prize is worth Tk 6 lakh and second prize Tk 3.25 lakh. There are two third prizes of Tk 1 lakh each, two fourth prizes of Tk 50,000 each and 40 fifth prizes worth Tk 10,000 each.
So the total value of prizes given out annually stands at Tk 43.55 crore. But the savings department said they only disbursed Tk 30.25 crore in FY 2018-19.
In FY 2019-20, the amount disbursed was Tk 27.17 crore while it was Tk 40.41 crore in FY 2020-21. In the first half of FY 2021-22 ending in December, the disbursements amounted to Tk 19.91 crore. “So, Tk 1.86 crore is yet to be claimed,” said the savings department officials.
According to Banglapedia, prize bonds are a public savings scheme introduced by the government in 1974 to mobilise domestic resources and providing incentives to small savers. All the bonds issued under this scheme so far are “bearer” in nature and as such, the holders are treated as the owners of the bonds.
These bonds are in fact government debt and on behalf of the government, Bangladesh Bank is responsible for the entire management of the scheme. Prize bonds do not bear any interest, it added. Prizes had been exempt of income tax up to 2011, when the government levied 20 per cent income tax on the prize mon

– With The Daily Star input

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