High and sticky inflation is affecting savings and even making people reluctant to invest in fixed instruments like bank deposits. Latest data from the Reserve Bank of India’s quarterly statistics on deposits and credit of scheduled commercial banks show the growth in aggregate deposits slowed to 13.2% in the three months to June this year compared with 15.8% in the same period last year.
More worrying is the fact that deposits growth in the metropolitan cities slowed to 12.4% in the June quarter this year from 13.8% in the same quarter last year—this segment accounts for about 55% of the total deposits of all scheduled commercial banks. Similarly, growth in deposits from urban areas, which account for 21% of total deposits, has slowed to 15.4% in the quarter ended June this year from 17.3% in the same period last year. Growth in rural deposits, too, slowed to 15.8% in the June 2013 quarter compared with 18.1% in the same period a year ago. The data are a clear indication that higher prices have reduced people’s savings as investments in small savings schemes have been dropping for the past few years.
The RBI data also show nationalised banks accounted for 52.3% of aggregate bank deposits. Across bank groups, the State Bank of India and its associates command 22.3% of the total deposits followed by new private sector banks at 13.4%, and the gap is gradually narrowing. The top 200 centres in the country accounted for over 73% of the total bank deposits. Most of these centres are in urban and metropolitan regions, clearly indicating the need for more financial inclusion, especially in rural areas.