MUMBAI: Banning of letters of undertaking (LoUs) and letters of comfort (LoCs) by the RBI as trade finance instruments is likely to reduce financial flexibility of importers, a Fitch group company said recently.
In the wake of Rs 13,000-crore PNB scam through fraudulent LoUs, the Central Bank stopped banks from issuing the two instruments for trade credits for imports into India.
"The Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) decision to ban LoUs) and LoCs as trade finance instruments is likely to limit the overall financial flexibility of Indian importers," said India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra).
The curb on the mobilisation of foreign currency working capital funds is likely to translate into liquidity pressure and higher funding costs for small and medium-sized corporate in short term.
Ind-Ra opines that funding costs for projects where a substantial portion of plant and machinery is required to be imported may witness an increase in finance cost in initial years, thereby exacerbating the pressure on project returns.
"The recent ban on LoUs by the RBI may pose challenges to banks to provide necessary support to importers," says Ind-Ra, and added that various importers are facing challenges in availing LCs for availing trade credit.