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RBI plans monthly inflation bonds to lure household savings

The Reserve Bank of India on Wednesday announced that it will launch inflation-linked bonds every month, starting 4 June, to attract household savings of up to Rs 15,000 crore this fiscal so as to discourage investments in gold.

'RBI, in consultation with Government of India, has decided to launch inflation indexed bonds (IIBs),' the central bank said in statement.

The first tranche of the IIBs 2013-14 for Rs 1,000-2,000 crore will be issued on 4 June, it said, adding that the maturity period of these bonds will be 10 years. The total issue size will be Rs 12,000-15,000 crore in 2013-14.

After the first tranche, bonds will be issued on last Tuesday of every month.

While the first series of the bonds will be open for all class of investors, the second series issue - beginning October - will be reserved exclusively for retail investors.

RBI said the bonds are pursuant to the Budget proposal to 'introduce instruments that will protect savings of poor and middle classes from inflation and incentives household sector to save in financial instruments rather than buy gold'.

Both the government as well as the Reserve Bank of India are concerned over the rising gold imports as its putting pressure on current account deficit (CAD), which widened to historic high of 6.7 per cent in third quarter of 2012-13.

Gold and silver imports last month shot up 138 per cent, year-on-year, to $7.5 billion.

Announcement of the bonds to discourage investments in gold is the second major move by RBI in the last three days.

On Monday, it had placed restrictions on banks to import gold.

Outlining the details of the first series of IIBs, the RBI said that while the coupon rate (interest rate) will remain fixed, the principal amount invested in the bonds will be linked to inflation based on wholesale price index. 'Thus these bonds provide inflation protection to both principal and coupon payment. At maturity, the adjusted principal or the face value, whichever is higher, will be paid,' the Reserve Bank of India said.
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