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India plans lower-than-expected market borrowing of $90 billion in fiscal first half

Published 03/27/2024, 08:22 AM
Updated 03/27/2024, 10:37 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Reserve Bank of India (RBI) logo is seen inside its headquarters in Mumbai, India, April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo

By Nikunj Ohri and Dharamraj Dhutia

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -The Indian government plans gross market borrowing of 7.5 trillion rupees ($90 billion) in the April-September period, which is 53% of the total estimate for the year, the finance ministry said on Wednesday.

The market had pegged the borrowing to be 56%-58% of the annual target.

"Slightly lower first half borrowing is to optimise our cash balances and reduce our interest costs," said Finance Secretary TV Somanathan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration in its last budget before national elections set a borrowing plan of 14.13 trillion rupees for the year 2024-25, starting April 1.

The plan announced on Feb. 1 was lower than this year's 15.43 trillion rupees. This surprised the market as Modi refrained from a populist budget and instead focused on reducing the government deficit.

The Indian government is targeting a fiscal deficit of 5.1% of the gross domestic output in 2024-25, down from 5.8% for 2023-24.

The fiscal first-half borrowing plan announced on Wednesday would be effective till the new government comes to power after national elections that begins on April 19. The new government will make a fresh budget.

The government will sell a new 15-year bond instead of a 14-year security in the period, the ministry said. The borrowing will be done through bonds with maturities of three, five, seven, 10, 30, 40 and 50 years.

The government will also sell 120 billion rupees of 10-year green bonds in April-September.

Market participants anticipate bond prices to rally on the last day of the financial year, as sliding yields aid investment valuations.

"The borrowing calendar seems to be positive for the market and we could see rally in bonds tomorrow, with the benchmark inching toward 7% mark and may end the fiscal in 7%-7.04% zone," said Alok Singh, group head of treasury at CSB Bank.

The Indian benchmark bond yield dipped lower on Wednesday and ended at 7.0694%.

Separately, the government will borrow 3.21 trillion rupees via sale of Treasury bills in April-June, which is also below market expectations.

Details of government borrowing in billion rupees:

Tenor FY24 FY24 FY25

H1 H2 H1

3-year 560 400 360

5-year 1,040 700 720

7-year 910 600 660

10-year 1,820 1,450 1,800

14-year 1,560 1,000 0

15-year 0 0 1,040

30-year 1,430 700 670

40-year 1,560 1,200 1,460

50-year 0 300 670

Green bonds 0 200 120

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Reserve Bank of India (RBI) logo is seen inside its headquarters in Mumbai, India, April 6, 2023. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo

Total 8,880 6,550 7,500

($1 = 83.3318 Indian rupees)

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