The fall in the rupee to record lows has raised the prospect that the government or the central bank could take steps to support a currency seen particularly vulnerable because of a record high current account deficit.
Below are measures the RBI and govt could consider to protect the rupee:
- Dollar-window for oil companies: The RBI could open a dollar window for oil companies to buy dollars directly from the central bank instead of buying from markets, but it would drain foreign exchange reserves.
- Dollars for oil bonds: The RBI could hold auctions to buy bonds from oil companies, providing them dollars or other non-rupee currencies, but the outstanding amount of oil bonds is small as the government has been giving direct cash subsidy to oil companies.
- Asking exporters to buy rupee: The central bank could ask exporters to convert part, or their entire, overseas foreign currency earnings in the market immediately, providing near-term relief to the rupee.
- Curbing net open position limits for banks: The central bank could ask banks to limit their net overnight open position limits, making it difficult to short the rupee and prevent speculative trading.
- Moral persuasion: The RBI could persuade banks and financial institutions to raise funds in dollars abroad and lend them locally, a measure that has worked in the past when overseas rates were attractive.
- Stagger import payments: The central bank could issue rules delaying or staggering import payments, which are typically made at the end of every month, although the RBI has not taken this step in recent years.
- Additional fiscal reforms: The government could review sectors such as defence, or revive pension and insurance reforms, but passage through parliament could be tough.
- Government backed non-resident Indian bond: The government could issue a sovereign bond through State Bank of India to non-resident Indians, but such a move could increase external debt and interest liability.
- Sovereign overseas bond: The government could issue sovereign bonds to raise dollars from overseas investors, but the RBI is reluctant to expose the country to foreign exchange risks during repayment.
Contributed By Sonia Narula