The origins of CEC, or the Savings Bank, date back to the latter half of the 19th century. At that time, the economic and political elite joined forces with ruler Alexandru Ioan Cuza in an effort to put the country’s finances in order, given that the Romanian Principalities became one state and were recognised as such by the Great Powers no sooner than in 1859.
CEC carried on the activities performed by the Deposits and Consignments House, the first public credit institution ever to be founded in Romania, and, starting from 1881, by the Savings House, the high profile savings house, whose name was changed to the Savings and Postal Cheques National House in 1932.
As far as savings houses were concerned, the first project was the brainchild of Costache Balcescu, who published it in 1845. It was backed by a list of underlying reasons and included “the statutes of the savings and deposits house” which was due for establishment by “free private subscription in the city of Bucharest”. It is worth mentioning that the project was inspired by the statutes of savings houses in France and by the statute of such a house already established in Brasov in 1835.
The credit organisation plan, which was released in 1864 in an annex to the government budget, referred to the financial institutions, which were listed according to the urgency of their being established. Thus, topping the list was “Banca Fonciara” (Landesbank), followed by “Banca de Scont si Circulatiune” (Discount and Circulation Bank), “Savings Bank”, “Casa pentru inlesnirea micilor agricultori si meseriasi” (The House for Small Entrepreneurs in Agriculture and Crafts), “The Pawnshop”, and “The Deposits and Consignments House”.
Nicolae Rosetti-Balcescu, the ad interim Minister of Finance, prepares a draft law for the establishment of a Deposits and Consignments House. On 24 November 1864, Alexandru Ioan Cuza passed the law and thus gave the nod to the establishment of the Deposits and Consignments House (CDC).
In keeping with Art. 1 of the Law on the establishment of the Deposits and Consignments House:
“A Deposits and Consignments House shall be established, which under the co-ordination of the Ministry of Finance and a supervisory commission shall collect and manage the funds arising out of the following:
- voluntary, administrative and legal savings;
- escrow accounts opened or authorised by special articles in the commercial code, criminal code or civil code, or by any other special law that shall be mentioned in accordance with the legal regulations;
- estates in abeyance;
- seizure of chattels;
- communal funds remaining after all expenses were covered;
- bails of accounting agents, public works entrepreneurs, purchasers and leaseholders (in agriculture), as they shall not become real-estate mortgages;
- securities to be lodged as collateral by taxpayers, according to the law.”
The interest to be paid to depositors was set at 5 per cent and was calculated starting with the sixty-first day from the date of making the deposit. Cash withdrawals were made within at most 30 days from submitting the application for withdrawal; this rule applied to voluntary savings and mandatory savings alike. The Savings House, a sort of an appendix to the Deposits and Consignments House, was set up in order to collect funds from small depositors in both urban and rural areas.
Each depositor was handed out a saving book to register all the operations made in his/her account. The amount of one deposit could not be smaller than one leu and could not be in excess of 300 lei. Two successive deposits could only be made within eight days. Once the amounts deposited and registered in a saving book reached 3,000 lei, the Savings House was bound by law to purchase, on behalf of the concerned depositor, government paper that were to be safe kept and managed separately. The interest on such paper could not be higher than 4.5 per cent, nor less than 3 per cent.