RBI Relaxes ECB Norms, Hikes Limit to $3 Billion

In a bid to increase the foreign fund flow into the country, the Reserve Bank of India today hiked the maximum limit to $3 billion for foreign borrowers under the external commercial borrowing (ECB) norms.

ECB refers to commercial loans in the form of bank loans, buyers' credit, suppliers' credit, securitised instruments availed of from non-resident lenders with a minimum average maturity of three years.

"We will continue to look at various spaces of which ECB is one...not only to increase the foreign flow in the country, but also to improve business climate," Department of Economic Affairs Secretary Dr Arvind Mayaram said on the sidelines of an event organised by Ficci in New Delhi.

Last month, the Finance Ministry had liberalised the norms for raising funds through external commercial borrowing (ECBs) by domestic firms, particularly those in the realty sector.

The High Level Committee on External Commercial Borrowings also permitted FIIs to invest up to USD five billion in rupee bonds within the overall corporate bond limit of $45 billion.

Also, the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has been made as "an eligible borrower" for accessing ECB route for on-lending to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).

"...many of the sectors now require higher foreign exchange denominated loans so we are looking at all of them. We are broadly looking at the possibility," Dr Mayaram said.

He further said that the government has taken a slew of decisions on the external commercial borrowings side in the last 10 days.

"We are also looking at the possibility of allowing those companies which have borrowed from Indian banks to get infrastructure assets outside of their country and there are some very large borrowings on that account, for borrowing abroad and retiring the Indian loans. So, the burden comes down," he said.

"There are large areas that we are already looking at and decisions will be taken," he added.


Financial Express, New Delhi, 12-09-2012



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