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China announces e-savings bond issue of up to 30b yuan
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The Ministry of Finance (MOF) announced on Thursday that it will start issuing the first electronic savings bonds of the year starting on May 16.

The three-year e-savings bond issue, which could be as large as 30 billion yuan (4.3 billion U.S. dollars), has a fixed annual interest rate of 5.74 percent.

The issue will end on May 31, with interest to be calculated from May 16 and paid annually, said the ministry in a statement on its website.

The bond will be sold at branches of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country's biggest lender, and six other banks.

Only individual investors can buy these bonds, the MOF said. The first such bonds were issued in June 2006.

The bearer treasury bond, which China began to issue in 1994, is another variety of savings bond. It has since become a popular investment tool for the public and an important channel for the government to raise funds for major construction projects.

Compared with bearer bonds, the MOF said the e-savings bond is more convenient for investors. For example, interest will be paid by direct deposit into the investor's account. For bearer bonds, investors must visit bank counters to be paid their interest.

The MOF has said that further e-savings products will be introduced.

(Xinhua News Agency May 9, 2008)

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