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RBI allows foreign retail investments in tax-free rupee bond

The Times of India:  December 26, 2013

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India on Tuesday allowed foreign retail investors, including non-resident Indians, to invest in rupee-denominated tax-free non-convertible bonds.

Funds raised through these bonds can be invested in infrastructure projects and in fixed deposits with banks. "It has been decided to permit resident entities, companies in India, authorized by the government of India, to issue taxfree, secured, redeemable, non-convertible bonds in rupees to persons resident outside India to use such borrowed funds for on lending, re-lending to the infrastructure sector and keeping in fixed deposits with banks in India pending utilization by them for permissible end-uses," RBI said in a statement.

It said the move will widen the investor base, help in internationalizing the currency and open another window for foreign investors.

At present, foreign institutional investors are not allowed to invest in tax-free infrastructure bonds issued by companies such as Power Finance Corporation, NAHAI, IIFL and Rural Electrification Corporation. Every year, the government allows some public sector companies to issue tax-free bonds.

Global investors have shown interest in rupee-denominated bonds. Recently, International Finance Corporation, the private finance arm of World Bank, had raised Rs 1,000 crore in the US by issuing rupee-linked bonds to global investors. IFC plans to raise a total of $1 billion. In such currency bond, the foreign investor will get proceeds in rupee.

"This will help in increasing the market base by including small and wide ticket size into Indian debt market," said Ashutosh Khajuria, president (treasury) at Federal Bank. "It is one step towards internationalisation of the currency." Since the bonds are rupee-denominated, volatility in the currency will not have an impact on the issuer. To that extent, external debt will be taken care of.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.