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F OREIGN E XCHANGE

M ANAGEMENT P OLICY IN I NDIA

Interim Report on Study of Foreign Exchange Management Policy


in India.

Vikash Bairoliya (4);


Khagesh Chitalangiya (6);
Mehul Jain (12);
Niket Khatri (17);
Subodh M Mallya (18)
November 16, 2007

Table of Contents
Overview of Forex policy over the years ...........................................................................2

From Control To Management ..........................................................................................2

Capital Account Liberalization Approach ......................................................................... 3

Current Scenario ................................................................................................................ 3

Group Insights & Suggestions ........................................................................................... 4

BIBLIOGRAPHY .................................................................................................................. 5

Summary Statistics

Number of Pages: 3

Number of Graphs: 1

Table of Contents, Cover Page &


Bibliography.

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November 16, 2007

OVERVIEW OF FOREX POLICY OVER THE YEARS

Independence ushered in a complex web of controls for all external transactions through
a legislation i.e., Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA), 1947. There were further
amendments made to the FERA in 1973 where the regulation was intensified. The policy
was designed around the need to conserve Foreign Exchange Reserves for essential
imports such as Petroleum goods and food grains.

The year 1991 was an important milestone for the Economy. There was a paradigm shift in
the Foreign Exchange Policy. It moved from an Import Substitution strategy to Export
Promotion with sufficient Foreign Exchange Reserves. The adequacy of the Reserves was
1
determined by the Guidotti Rule , though the actual implementation of the rule was
modified to meet our requirements.

As a result of measures initiated to liberalize capital inflows, India’s Foreign Exchange


Reserves (mainly foreign currency assets) have increased from US$6 billion at end-March
1991 to US$270 billion2 as on 9th November 2007. It would be useful to note that the
Reserves accretion can be attributed to large Foreign Capital Inflow that could not be
absorbed in the economy. This has been as a result of shift of funds from developed
economies to emerging markets like India, China and Russia.

FROM CONTROL TO MANAGEMENT

In the 1990s, consistent with the general philosophy of economic reforms a sea change
relating to the broad approach to reform in the external sector took place. The Report of
the High Level Committee on Balance of Payments (Chairman: Dr. C. Rangarajan, 1993)
set the broad agenda in this regard. The Committee recommended the following:

The introduction of a market-determined exchange rate regime within limits


Liberalization of current account transactions leading to current account
convertibility;
Compositional shift in capital flows away from debt to non debt creating flows;
Strict regulation of external commercial borrowings, especially short-term debt;

1 The Guidotti Rule says that Usable foreign exchange reserves should exceed the
scheduled amortization of foreign currency debts during the following 12 months.
However this was amended to meet the Indian requirement
2 Source: Reserve Bank of India Weekly Statistics Publication (16th Nov 2007)

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November 16, 2007

Discouraging volatile elements of flows from non-resident Indians; full freedom


for outflows associated with inflows (i.e., principal, interest, dividend, profit and
sale proceeds) and gradual liberalization of other outflows;
Dissociation of Government in the intermediation of flow of external assistance,
as in the 1980s, receipts on capital account and external financing were confined
to external assistance through multilateral and bilateral sources.

The sequence of events in the subsequent years generally followed these


recommendations. In 1993, exchange rate of rupee was made market determined; close
on the heels of this important step, India accepted Article VIII of the Articles of
Agreement of the International Monetary Fund in August 1994 and adopted the current
account convertibility. In June 2000 a legal framework, with implementation of FEMA,
was put into effect to ensure convertibility on the current account.

CAPITAL ACCOUNT LIBERALIZATION APPROACH

Globalization of the world economy is a reality that makes opening up of the capital
account and integration with global economy an unavoidable process. Today capital
account liberalization is not a choice. The capital account liberalization primarily aims at
liberalizing controls that hinder the international integration and diversification of
domestic savings in a portfolio of home assets and foreign assets and allows agents to
reap the advantages of diversification of assets in the financial and real sector. However,
the benefits of capital mobility come with certain risks which should be categorized and
managed through a combination of administrative measures, gradual opening up of
prudential restrictions and safeguards to contain these risks.

URRENT SCENARIO
CURRENT

The main objectives in managing a stock of reserves for any developing country, including
India, are preserving their long-term value in terms of purchasing power over goods and
services, and minimizing risk and volatility in returns. After the East Asian crises of 1997,
India has followed a policy to build higher levels of Foreign Exchange Reserves that take
into account not only anticipated current account deficits but also liquidity at risk arising
from unanticipated capital movements. Accordingly, the primary objectives of
maintaining Foreign Exchange Reserves in India are safety and liquidity; maximizing
returns is considered secondary. In India, reserves are held for precautionary and

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November 16,
1 2007

transaction motives to provide confidence to the markets, both domestic and external,
those foreign obligations can always be met.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in consultation with the Government of India,
currently manages Foreign Exchange Reserves.. As the objectives of reserve
management are liquidity and safety, attention is paid to the currency
composition and duration of investment, so that a significant proportion can be
converted into cash at short notice.

Deployment of Foreign Exchange as on 31st July 2007

7 ; 3%
47 ; 24%

53 ; 27%

92 ; 46%

Securities Deposits with other central banks, BIS & IMF


Deposits with foreign commercial banks Gold (including gold deposits)

Source: Reserve Bank of India

GROUP INSIGHTS & SUGGESTIONS

As part of the group suggestions


suggestions and insights, we will touch upon how the
foreign exchange reserves can be deployed in a manner that will fetch higher
returns
ns without compromising
compromi on the goals that are currently set for these
investments. This is in addition
additi to Capital Account Convertibility Issues.
Issues

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November 16, 2007

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Websites

http://rbi.org.in
http://mospi.gov.in
http://imf.org
http://treasury.worldbank.org

Publications

Bank of International Settlement – 2005


Following the Singapore model - S. Venkitaramanan
The Hindu
Business Line
Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research

Databases

CMIE
RBI Database (link from http://rbi.org.in)
CSO Database on Foreign Exchange Reserves

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