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External Commercial Borrowings (ECB) Policy - Liberalisation

A.P. (DIR Series) Circular No. 46

January 2, 2009


All Category-I Authorised Dealer Banks

Madam / Sir,

External Commercial Borrowings (ECB) Policy - Liberalisation

Attention of Authorised Dealer Category - I (AD Category - I) banks is invited to the A.P. (DIR Series) Circular No. 26 dated October 22, 2008 relating to External Commercial Borrowings (ECB).

2. On a review, it has been decided to modify some aspects of the ECB policy as indicated below :

(i) As per extant ECB policy, the all-in-cost ceilings for ECBs, in respect of both Automatic as well as Approval routes are as under:

Average Maturity Period

All-in-Cost ceilings over
6 Months LIBOR*

Three years and up to five years

300 bps

More than five years

500 bps

* for the respective currency of borrowing or applicable benchmark.

It has now been decided to dispense with the requirement of all-in-cost ceilings on ECB until June 30, 2009. Accordingly, eligible borrowers, proposing to avail of ECB beyond the permissible all-in-cost ceilings specified above may approach the Reserve Bank under the Approval Route. This relaxation in all-in-cost ceiling will be reviewed in June 2009.

(ii) In May, 2007, Reserve Bank had withdrawn the exemption accorded to the 'development of integrated township' as a permissible end-use of ECB. It has now been decided to permit corporates, engaged in the development of integrated township, as defined in Press Note 3 (2002 Series) dated January 04, 2002, issued by DIPP, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India to avail of ECB under the Approval Route. Integrated township, as defined above, includes housing, commercial premises, hotels, resorts, city and regional level urban infrastructure facilities such as roads and bridges, mass rapid transit systems and manufacture of building materials. Development of land and providing allied infrastructure forms an integrated part of township’s development. The minimum area to be developed should be 100 acres for which norms and standards are to be followed as per local bye-laws / rules. In the absence of such bye-laws/rules, a minimum of two thousand dwelling units for about ten thousand population will need to be developed. The policy will be reviewed in June 2009.

(iii) As per the extant ECB policy, Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) are permitted to avail of ECB for a minimum average maturity period of five years to finance import of infrastructure equipments for leasing to infrastructure projects in India. It has now been decided to allow NBFCs, which are exclusively involved in financing of the infrastructure sector, to avail of ECBs from multilateral / regional financial institutions and Government owned development financial institutions for on-lending to the borrowers in the infrastructure sector under the Approval route. While considering the applications, Reserve Bank will take into account the aggregate commitment of these lenders directly to infrastructure projects in India. The direct lending portfolio of the above lenders vis-à-vis their total ECB lending to NBFCs, at any point of time should not be less than 3:1. AD Category - I banks should obtain a certificate from the eligible lenders to this effect. This facility will be reviewed in June 2009.

(iv) At present, entities in the services sector viz. Hotels, Hospitals and Software sector are allowed to avail of ECB up to USD 100 million per financial year for import of capital goods, under the Approval route. It has now been decided to permit the corporates in the Hotels, Hospitals and Software sectors to avail of ECB up to USD 100 million per financial year, under the Automatic Route, for foreign currency and / or Rupee capital expenditure for permissible end-use. The proceeds of the ECBs should not be used for acquisition of land.

3. The modifications to the ECB guidelines will come into force with immediate effect. All other aspects of ECB policy, such as USD 500 million limit per company per financial year under the Automatic Route, eligible borrower, recognised lender, end-use, all-in-cost ceiling, average maturity period, prepayment, refinancing of existing ECB and reporting arrangements remain unchanged.

4. Necessary amendments to the Foreign Exchange Management (Borrowing or Lending in Foreign Exchange) Regulations, 2000 dated May 3, 2000 are being issued separately.

5. AD Category - I banks may bring the contents of this circular to the notice of their constituents and customers concerned.

6. The directions contained in this circular have been issued under sections 10(4) and 11 (1) of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (42 of 1999) and is without prejudice to permissions/approvals, if any, required under any other law.

Yours faithfully,

(D. Mishra)
Chief General Manager