Rupee Denominated Bonds Outside India

IAS Prelims 2023

The RBI has granted permission to the Indian corporate to issue rupee denominated bonds outside India in a bid to encourage foreign investors.

A press released issued by the Finance Ministry said, the matter of taxation of income from such bonds under Income-tax Act has been considered by the Government.

The government also clarified that the taxation of interest income from these INR off-shore bonds in the case of non-resident investors is 5 percent, which is in the nature of final tax and it would be applicable in the same way as it is applicable for off-shore dollar denominated bond.

rbiThe government also decided the Capital gains, arising in case of appreciation of rupee between the date of Issue and the date of redemption against the foreign currency in which the investment is made, would be exempted from capital gains tax.

Rupee denominated debt refers to that part of India’s total external debt that is denominated in India’s domestic currency, the Rupee.

Government’s clarification on these bonds comes in the wake of companies such as NTPC, IRFC and IIFCL are planning to issue rupee-denominated bonds in markets abroad. Even foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) also had sought clarification on the tax treatment of the instruments.

The government will bring in the required legislative amendments in the Finance Bill 2016.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), last month, had issued detailed guidelines permitting Indian companies to sell rupee-denominated bonds outside India.

The bonds will help these institutions raise cheaper funds from overseas markets, simultaneously shifting the burden of hedging against foreign currency fluctuations to the investors buying these bonds. However, institutions were waiting for the government to provide some tax relief to encourage investors to invest.

Indian companies may issue bonds to overseas investors with absolutely no restrictions if the investors register in India as foreign portfolio investors (“FPIs”) and invest domestically in listed bonds. There is a concessional rate of withholding tax for this purpose.

These bonds are bonds issued in India – hence, there are no restrictions on the end-use. Leaving aside some exceptions, these bonds have to be listed bonds, in order to make them eligible for subscription by FPIs.

The rupee-denominated bonds (RDBs), on the other hand, are subscribed to by overseas investors directly. The end-use restrictions, discussed below, are minimal. There is no need for any registration as an investor in India. Withholding taxes will be applicable based on the domicile of the country from where the money comes, and the treaty that India has with that country.

Indian companies also have the option of issuing foreign currency convertible bonds (“FCCBs”). FCCBs are hybrid instruments as they carry an equity conversion option. In addition, they are subject to ECB restrictions too.

RDBs are rupee-denominated, and are issued to overseas investors. They may be secured or unsecured, or listed or unlisted, rated or unrated. Hence, this seems to provide to Indian companies are a very different option as compared to the existing options.