Certain days of the year are reserved to commemorate specific human actions, thoughts, needs and obligations in order to manifest their importance in connection with the development of the mankind. Every year, October 31 is one of such days on which we are reminded of the meaning of the concept of Thrift and Savings.
Thrift is considered the spirit of order applied to domestic management and organization. Its objective is to manage prudently the resources of the country, the family to prevent waste and avoid useless expenditure. Thrift is the Prime Agent in Private and state economy. Adherence to these principles leads the way to accumulation of savings which is very important not only for personal purposes but for the nature building too.
Thrift and Savings are not novel in any way to any community in the world irrespective of their social category. Things took a revolutionary change in the 18th century and early 19th century when the industrial revolution seized in England in its grip. With the bringing about of mechanical innovations, traditional agricultural society which remained mostly self started to disintegrate.
The resulting social economic upheaval gave birth to new social problems. Differences in the class structure widened and poverty spread. A majority of the poor labour force governed by a few industrialists.
With the emergence of this social change concerned philanthropists, individually or collectively grouped together tried to find a solution. Importance of thrift and savings became widely popular during this period. It was believed that thrift and savings can eliminate this adverse situation. This should be done in an organized manner so that the savings made by them would be kept somewhere safely and be given to them, when they felt assistance was needed.
This process was first successfully implemented in 1810 by Rev. Henry Dunkan at the village of Ruthwell, Dumfricshire in Scotland with the aim of relieving the financial distress of the impoverished community.
The example set by Rev Henry Duncan who was considered as the father of the Savings Bank was followed by many towns in Scotland and through England. Thereafter Savings Banks were established beyond the shores of England.
In 1850 the England Government, passed the Post Office Savings Bank Bill enabling the establishment of Post Office Savings Bank during that the Post Office was the main access of the people. Other countries also quickly realized the advantages of establishment of such Post Office Banking System. At the turn of the 20th Century thus the World had a firmly established savings banking system.
With the emergence of Savings Banks all over the world, the need to take them under one directorate was felt. By this means it was hoped to build up the practical international co-operation amongst the isolated savings banks and to promote their interests.
Thus, in 1924, was formed the International Savings Bank Institute (ISBI). This was a non government body supported financially by contributions made by its members.
Following the establishment of the ISBI in Geneva, Switzerland, the first International Savings Bank Congress was held in Milan, Italy in 1924. It was decided that October 31,in each year should be celebrated internationally as “World Thrift Day” to focus attention on thrift and to promote the habit of savings among the communities of the world.
The ISBI, which had been functioning since 1924 was required to be restructured to suit new demands at that time.
Thus, the ISBI underwent changes and emerged as the “World Savings Bank Institute (WSBI) in 1994, with its Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
Savings Banks across the World have a long history of commitment to the communities in which they operate; contributing to the improvement of living conditions, supporting the local economic development and building greater social cohesion in the local communities where they operate is an integral part of their identity and one of their distinctive features among financial players.
In all continents, Savings Banks remain a key social actor, seeking to bring value and returns to the citizens and communities surrounding them. Savings Banks are a main catalyst for social and financial inclusion for any country. National Savings Bank in Sri Lanka is not an exceptional.
Nowadays, it can be said that thrift education in developed countries, where most people save money, was a success since there are practically no people that do not yet own a bank account. The field that is now to be played is the developing countries where, in the worst case, the number of saving accounts does not exceed 10%. Savings banks play an important role in enhancing savings in these countries with certain campaigns and initiatives such as working with the Bill and Melinda Gates to double the number of savings accounts held by the poor.