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… quite heady from their initial growth success and stocked up on huge external debts of 5- to 7-years maturity. The repayment clock is ticking for many of them now.
External commercial borrowings are now 31 per cent of the country’s total external debt of $390 billion as of 31 March 2013. Short-term debt with one year maturity is 25 per cent of total external debt. However, total short term debt to be paid back by the end of this fiscal, which includes a lot of corporate borrowings payable by end March 2014, is 44 per cent of the country’s external debt or $172 billion.
Corporates have managed to roll over their foreign borrowings over the past year because of the easy liquidity conditions kept by the U.S. Federal Reserve. But if the Fed’s easy liquidity stance were to reverse, there is no knowing how Indian corporates will pay back their foreign debt at a depreciated exchange rate of the rupee.
In any case, besides meeting its debt repayment obligation of $172 billion by 31 March 2014, India needs another $90 billion of net capital flows to meet its current account deficit projected at 4.7 per cent of GDP by the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) for the coming fiscal.
The chairman of the PMEAC, C. Rangarajan, told The Hindu that an otherwise manageable CAD may create a perception of vulnerability in the backdrop of the Fed’s latest stance.
The $172 billion that has to be paid back by March 31, 2014, will no doubt add to this growing sense of unease.