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Higher govt borrowings hurting corporate debt market: RBI

The rise in government borrowings through bonds is impeding the growth of the corporate debt market in the country, Reserve Bank Deputy Governor R Gandhi said Monday.

“The huge supply of government paper in the country is one of the major impediments to the growth of corporate bond market,” Gandhi said, addressing a corporate debt event organised by Care Ratings here.

Presenting data which showed the inability of the corporate debt market to grow, Gandhi said every year, the government borrowing only grows “unabated”.

“If we compare with government bond market, the corporate bond market is dwarfed,” he said, adding that as a percentage of GDP, the outstanding government bonds were at 49.1 percent while corporate bonds were at 5.4 percent, in 2013.

However, he welcomed the fiscal consolidation plan of the government as a step in right direction which will aid the deepening of the corporate debt market.

“We have seen that the government is progressively trying to reign in the deficit at absolute level which will put less pressure on the market,” he said.

These comments have come at a time when there is growing speculation that RBI’s role in public debt management will be given to a professional agency.

Gandhi also said the RBI’s move to gradually reduce the Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR), or the amount of government bond holdings for banks, will also be beneficial to the corporate debt market.

With the banking system plagued with rising NPAs (non-performing assets), shifting to the corporate bond market for funds is very desirable, Gandhi said. He said borrowers take undue advantage of the 90-day window in NPA recognition and pay up on the 89th day, but same is not possible in case of corporate bonds where they have to pay up on a given day.

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