The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday announced liberalisation of the policy for public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs) in the case of external commercial borrowings (ECB) for working capital purposes. Under the current policy, ECB can be raised for working capital purposes if such an ECB is raised from direct and indirect equity holders or from a group company, provided the loan is for a minimum average maturity of five years.
Under the new provision, public sector OMCs can raise ECB for working capital purposes with minimum average maturity period of 3/5 years from all recognized lenders under the automatic route. “All the state-run oil marketing companies (OMCs) will now be able to raise external commercial borrowings (ECBs) for working capital purposes with a minimum average maturity of three to five years from all recognised lenders under “the automatic route”, the RBI said.
Further, the individual limit of $750 million or equivalent and mandatory hedging requirements as per the ECB framework have also been waived for borrowings under this dispensation. However, OMCs should have a board-approved forex mark-to-market procedure and prudent risk management policy for such ECBs. “Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies will raise USD 10 billion for 3-5 year for financing their permanent working capital. RBI has also granted necessary exemptions under the ECB policy,” economic affairs secretary SC Garg said in a tweet.
MK Surana, CMD of HPCL, said: The move will definitely increase dollar inflows to the country and stabilise the domestic market. A longer term of of 3-5 years will also help in facing periods of volatility. We are still to work out how much we will borrow. Usually, every OMC has a different need in terms of requirement of liquidity and tenure also differs, and so each one has a separate borrowing plan. However we may explore the option to borrow as a consortium.
The overall borrowings under the revised norms have been capped at $10 billion and the revision in norms is with an immediate effect, the central bank said, adding that the decision has been taken after discussions with the government. The move comes on a day when the rupee closed at a new low of 73.34 against the dollar, after Brent breached $84 a barrel, against the previous close of 72.91.
The domestic currency touched a low of 72.41 against the greenback intra-day before recovering it to close the session at 73.34. Close to 80% of crude is imported, and OMCs are the biggest consumers of the dollar in the country. There has been a talk around the possibility of opening a special swap window for OMCs, as was done in previous episode of slide in the rupee like in 2013.