By Shashank Nayar Public issuance of corporate bonds for the April-January period in FY19 amounted to be the highest in the past five years, according to Sebi data, as non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) relied on raising funds through retail issuances amid subdued lending by mutual funds to the sector. Public issuances of corporate bonds were higher in FY14 at `33,760 crore for the April-January period amid higher volumes, as 35 NBFCs raised funds for the mentioned period, according to Sebi data. NBFCs raised nearly `33,700 crore from retail issuances of corporate bonds for the above-mentioned period at a higher coupon rate from the previous fiscal as the sector faced shortage of liquidity and higher cost of borrowings. Interest rates offered by NBFCs for retail NCDs ranged between 8% and 10.5% for the five-year paper, which were higher than the rates offered last year. Shriram Transport is now paying 130 basis points (bps) more than it did a year back. In April, the lender mopped up money at a rate of 9.50%; in March 2018, it had paid a coupon of only 8.10%. The cost of funds for AAA-rated NBFCs has increased by 17 bps since September 2018, when liquidity constraints were at its peak, according to experts at Care Ratings. Long-term funding (more than one-year) by mutual funds to NBFCs fell by 13.8% to `68,501 crore in February, against `60,204 crore in September 2018, according to data. Funding towards the sector has dropped by nearly `4,000 crore in February against the funding received in January. \u201cNBFCs currently are in need of long-term funds which mutual funds as of now are not willing to lend, as they are still cautious and are willing to lend to NBFCs only with a strong balance sheet and robust promoter backing,\u201d said Mahendra Jajoo, head of fixed income at Mirae Asset Global. Approximately, 21 NBFCs have raised funds from through retail issuances \u2013 the highest in the past three fiscals till January this year. Total issuances stand to increase for the year ended March 2019 as issuances from major NBFCs like L&T finance and Shriram Transport Finance are yet to be incorporated.