India - Methods of PaymentIndia - Methods of Payment
Import financing procedures adhere to western business practices. The safest method of receiving payments is through an irrevocable letter of credit (L/C). The L/C should be payable in favor of the supplier against presentation of shipping documents through the importer’s bank. Importers open L/Cs valid for three to six months depending upon the terms of the agreement. Typically, L/Cs are opened for a period of time to cover production and shipping. They are normally paid within seven working days of the receipt of goods. There are several lines of credit available to U.S companies.
Commercial banks continue to be the main source of short-term finance and working capital requirements of Indian firms. Indian companies also raise funds by issuing commercial paper and debentures, from inter-corporate borrowings, and by accepting public deposits. Several term-lending public financial institutions provide local and foreign exchange loans for new capital investment projects. They also provide deferred payment loans, long-term working capital finance, export credit and stock underwriting services. Lending banks secure their loans with company assets, corporate guarantees from a parent company, and, in some cases, by personal guarantees from company directors.
Local and resident foreign companies are permitted to raise medium-to-long-term loans in foreign currency for projects requiring capital equipment, technology imports, or the purchase of aircraft or ships. The Indian government permits borrowing through suppliers’ credits, buyers’ credits, syndicated loans, floating-rate notes, revolving underwriting facilities and bonds. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) permits loans, which mature within one year, to be repaid from net foreign exchange earnings without prior government approval.
Loans in foreign currencies can be obtained through foreign commercial banks, overseas financial institutions (e.g., the International Finance Corporation and the Asian Development Bank), and foreign export-credit agencies, in addition to Indian development and commercial banks. Indian companies can also raise foreign currency loans in accordance with the guidelines for External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs), issued by the Ministry of Finance. There are no restrictions on the use of such loans, except that they cannot be used for stock market speculation. Once the RBI and Ministry of Finance have approved a loan and its terms, no limitations are placed on interest and principal payments. A firm, however, must report to the RBI through its designated banker every time an interest payment is made.
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