India may slash or even cancel its planned borrowings from the market for April, looking at its options amid a nationwide lockdown prompted by the coronavirus outbreak, two finance ministry sources told Reuters.
The travel curbs have disrupted routine bond market trading and volumes and prompted primary dealers, underwriters to bond issuances, to seek finance ministry intervention.
“We are looking at various options. Market borrowing is challenging in the current environment,” a senior finance ministry official said.
“So we are considering options of selling these bonds to LIC (Life Insurance Corp of India) or RBI (Reserve Bank of India). We might still look at a small borrowing from the market, but all options are on the table,” he said, adding that the government could also use the central bank’s ways-and-means facility – an overdraft facility the RBI offers to the state – to address any immediate cash needs.
Private placement of bonds would ensure the government gets the money it needs for its expenditure while there is no impact on the market.
He also said the government would likely take a month-on-month view on borrowing unlike its normal six-month borrowing calendar.