Chit funds operate in different ways, and this may lead to many fraudulent tactics practised by private firms. The basic necessity of conducting a ‘Chitty’ is a group of needy people called subscribers. The foreman — the company or person conducting the chitty — brings these people together and conducts the chitty. The foreman is also responsible for collecting the money from subscribers, presiding over the auctions, and keeping subscriber records. He is compensated by a fixed amount (generally 5% of gross chitty amount) monthly for his efforts. Other than that, the foreman has no specific privileges, she is just a chitty subscriber. A simple formula depicts the pattern of the chitty:
Monthly Premium × Duration in Months = Gross Amount
E.g., 1000 * 50 = 50,000/- Where 1000 is the maximum monthly contribution needed from a subscriber, 50 is the duration of the chitty in months and 50,000 is the maximum sum assured. The duration also equals the number of subscribers, as there must be (not more or less) one subscriber to receive the prize money every month.
The chitty starts on an announced date, every subscriber come together for the auction/lot. As per Kerala chit act, the minimum prize money of an auction is limited to 70% of the gross sum assured that is 35,000 in the above example. When there are more than one person willing to take this minimum sum, lots are conducted and the ‘Lucky subscriber’ gets the prize money for the month. If there is no person willing to take the minimum sum, then a reverse auction is conducted where subscribers open-bid for lower amounts; that is from 50,000 >> 49,000 >> 48,000, and so on. The person bidding the lowest sum will get the bid amount.
In both the cases the auction discount, that is the difference between the gross sum and auction amount, is equally distributed among subscribers or is deducted from their monthly premium. For example, if the auction is settled on a sum of 40,000, then the auction discount of 10,000 (50,000 – 40,000) is divided by 50 (the total number of subscribers) and every one gets a discount of 200. The same practice is repeated every month and every subscriber gets a chance of receiving some money.
Chit funds are considered microfinance organizations.
Contribution of Thrissur According to All Kerala Kuri Foremen’s Association, Kerala has around 5,000 chit companies, with Thrissur district accounting for the maximum of 3,000. These chit companies provide employment to about 35,000 persons directly and an equal number indirectly.