The New Year is upon us and brings with it a sense of renewal and redemption. After all, it is an opportunity to let bygones be bygones and focus on the new and positive things waiting for us in the future.
New resolutions adorn our lives and bring hope for a better future. Even if some things did not go according to plan, that’s okay. We can always make improvements and important changes in the New Year.
This spirit of growth is something that kicks in not only on an individual level but also on a societal one.
After all, India is still a young country and is home to more than 1.4 million people. We still need to introduce various social, economic, and political reforms to become a more inclusive and tolerant society.
But that journey of a thousand miles has to begin with a single step. In other words, we cannot push aside small-scale changes that can improve/help citizens in pursuit of larger and more “noble” goals like ending hunger and eradicating poverty.
That is why, today, we decided to talk about some major changes that will take effect in January 2023. After all, one should stay informed and up-to-date in today’s world. Hence, in this blog post, we have put the spotlight specifically on those mandates that will affect the common man as opposed to the already rich and elite.
Now, without further ado, let’s jump right into the discussion, shall we?
Seven Major Changes That Will Affect Regular People In India
#1. Bank Locker Rules
If you already have a bank locker or are planning to get one, then this amendment is for you. Back in 2021, the RBI announced revised guidelines regarding locker agreements in the wake of a Supreme Court directive issued in February 2021.
The RBI circular stated that banks could not include any unfair terms or conditions in the locker agreements and that they should not be more onerous than needed.
Though these mandates kicked in back in 2022, banks still had time till January 1, 2023, to finalise these terms and conditions and sign a renewed locker agreement with their clients.
Moreover, the agreement should be on stamp paper. While both parties sign on a duplicate copy that is then given to the customers, the original document will remain with the bank. The agreements must follow the model drafted by the Indian Bank Association (IBA).
#2. High-Security Number Plates
We concur that finding a colourful or fancy number plate with a unique number can be the highlight of even the most mundane road trips. However, due to certain amendments made in 2019, the odds of this happening have drastically reduced.
To make ourselves clear, despite the quashing aesthetics, it is not necessarily a bad thing that people now need to get High-Security Registration Plates (HSRPs) for their cars. These consist of a hot-stamped chromium-based Ashok Chakra hologram on the top left corner and a 10-digit Permanent Identification Number (PIN) below the former. There are a host of other features, too, that makes HSRPs a more secure alternative than conventional number plates.
In the New Year, all automobiles – whether two-wheelers or four-wheelers – will need to be affixed with high-security number plates, by orders of the government. You may end up having to pay a penalty of between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 10,000 in case you don’t follow suit.
At first glance, you might find it odd that HSRPs are being mandated across the country, but there’s a good reason for that. You see, these tamper-free number plates are much safer than the previous ones that have been used for decades.
Firstly, these HSRPs come with a non-removable and non-reusable snap-on lock that cannot even be replaced, which means it can help curb the rising rates of vehicular theft. Plus, when you do get this specialised number plate, important information (like engine and chassis numbers) gets stored on a database that is then used by authorities to track down your automobile.
You can easily apply for a high-security number plate online. Expect it to cost about Rs. 400 for two-wheelers and up to Rs. 1,100 for four-wheelers. You will also have to pay Rs. 100 to get a colour-coded sticker that indicates if the engine is fueled by petrol, diesel, or CNG.
#3. Mandatory KYC To Purchase Insurance
Previously, you could buy non-life or general insurance policies such as health, auto, or travel policies. It was up to the client whether they wanted to provide Know Your Customer (KYC) documents when signing up for a new policy.
But at the onset of the New Year, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has made it mandatory for everyone to give KYC documents if they wish to buy – or renew – any type of insurance policy, irrespective of what the premium is. Do note that if you fail to give your KYC papers in time, it may prevent you from renewing any existing policies later on.
As a policyholder, you don’t need to be afraid of this change because it’s going to ultimately benefit you. If your KYC is already on file with the insurance company, the claims will be processed in a faster and more efficient manner. It can also help ensure that policyholders are eligible for the coverage they wish to purchase.
A centralised KYC data bank also means that insurance companies have more to work with when trying to improve their accuracy of risk assessment and pricing. Furthermore, it can help reduce cases of fraudulent claims.
In other words, not only will this change improve the overall experience for customers, but it will also serve to protect insurers as well.
#4. Changes To Credit Card Agreements
A few banks will be revising the terms and conditions of their credit card agreements in January 2023, thanks to the RBI.
For instance, SBI will cap the accumulation of reward points for purchases made on Amazon to 5X reward points; earlier, this limit was 10X.
HDFC Bank, on the other hand, will no longer give you points if you pay rent through its credit cards. Instead, you will be charged 1% of the amount as a fee.
#5. Changes In NPS Withdrawals
New rules have been issued by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA). As per this notice, the online partial withdrawal facility from the National Pension System (NPS) account through self-declaration is no longer going to be an option for government sector subscribers.
Yes, that includes NPS subscribers from state and central government as well as central autonomous bodies. Instead, these individuals will now have to go through the appropriate nodal offices.
On the other hand, non-government NPS subscribers can avail of this service through the self-declaration process itself. There are no changes for them.
#6. Increased Interest For Various Government Small Savings Schemes
The Finance Ministry recently announced that interest rates had been raised between 20 and 110 basis points, which translates to an increase of 4% to 7.6%, on certain small savings schemes. These have come into effect for the January to March quarter as of now.
You can avail of the same on Post Office 1 to 3-year term deposits and 5-year recurring deposits. Apart from that, the increased rates also apply to National Saving Certificates (NSC), Kisan Vikas Patra, Sukanya Samriddhi Account, and Senior Citizens Savings Scheme.
In fact, the rate for the Senior Citizens Savings Scheme now earns 8% in the New Year, as opposed to 7.6% previously.
There are, however, some schemes that are exempt from this hike. These include the Public Provident Fund (PPF) and Sukanya Samriddhi account scheme.
In fact, the interest rates on both schemes have been consistent; while there was no increase, the rates haven’t dropped, either. You will still get an interest rate of 7.10% on the PPF. Holders of the Sukanya Samriddhi account will still get a rate of 7.6%, too.
#7. LPG Price Hike
The cost of commercial liquid petroleum gas (LPG) was raised by the oil marketing companies (OMCs) in the New Year. A 19 kg cylinder costs Rs. 25 more from January 1, 2023. What does this mean?
For one, common people don’t need to worry about this price hike upsetting their domestic routine. That is because this increase in cost is only for commercial cylinders.
Therefore, while you may feel the effects of this when dining outside, the LPG cylinders you use at home will still be sold at the same rates as last year. Besides, the price of domestic cylinders was already hiked four times in 2022. So, you don’t need to stress out about this just yet.
Just for your knowledge, a commercial cylinder will cost Rs. 1,768 in Delhi, Rs. 1,721 in Mumbai, Rs. 1,870 in Kolkata, and Rs. 1,917 in Chennai.
Thus, as you can tell, there are many small-scale economic and regulatory reforms that have been sweeping the nation in January 2023. These seven changes are something every Indian needs to know about because many even affect their daily lives. Plus, if you know what to expect, you can plan better for your own security and future.