Indian Oil Firms Can Stagger $10-bn Overseas Borrowing: Finance Ministry

Arun Jaitley - Sakshi Post

New Delhi: The Finance Ministry on Thursday said that the $10 billion foreign currency loans that state-run oil-marketing companies (OMCs) can raise for their working capital needs will have to be staggered over a period of one year from now.

The oil companies can raise $10 billion via External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs) with a maturity of five years in a phased manner, with an initial tranche of $4 billion followed by two tranches of $3 billion each, in one year from now, the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry's statement follows the Reserve Bank of India's decision on Wednesday to relax ECB norms for the working capital needs of fuel retailers. The RBI has waived off the individual company limit of $750 million or equivalent and the mandatory hedging requirements, as it seeks to stem the rupee's slide.

The RBI has allowed the oil companies to borrow from all overseas recognised lenders under the automatic route.

Further, the RBI relaxed the requirement of a minimum average maturity of five years and replaced it with minimum average maturity of three to five years.

The move is seen as an attempt to encourage oil firms to raise their dollar requirements from abroad, as the rupee has been hitting new lows against the dollar amid hardening crude oil prices.

India imports about 80 per cent of its crude oil requirements, and rising global prices threaten to widen its current account gap, pressuring the domestic currency.

The rupee on Thursday hit a new low of Rs 73.77 to a US dollar. (IANS)

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