Home / Economy / India unwilling to relent on tax stance for debt index inclusion

India has ruled out any changes to tax policies that will make it easier for the nation’s bonds to be included in global indexes, according to people familiar with the matter.  

The government doesn’t plan to waive capital gains taxes, and it’s concerned that foreign inflows will increase the volatility of local markets, said the people, who didn’t want to be identified discussing policy matters. Those taxes have been a stumbling block in previous negotiations.

FTSE Russell and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are due to unveil the results of their index reviews in coming weeks. Investors have piled into Indian bonds ahead of those announcements on bets the country will replace Russian debt. While the index compilers could proceed to include the securities without changes, discussions earlier this year fell apart over the government’s demand to retain the right to tax capital gains on transactions, dashing analyst predictions of $30 billion of foreign inflows. 

India’s bond market is the largest in the emerging world that’s not already included in global indexes. The nation’s benchmark 10-year bond yield has dropped almost 30 basis points since the middle of June as local banks and foreign investors boosted their holdings. 

Money managers frequently track global bond indexes when making allocation decisions, and inclusion often lead to billions of dollars of inflows.

A JPMorgan investor survey found that funds want India to replace Russia, which was excluded after the invasion of Ukraine, said a money manager with access to the results. Still, the survey also showed investors wanted the Asian nation’s government to ease some rules, the money manager said, asking not to be identified as the discussions are private. 

Tax Clarity

The ability to access India’s debt market through an international central security depository, such as Euroclear, better transaction efficiency and clarity on taxes were cited as some of the key remaining hurdles to index inclusion, the money manager said.

The people didn’t say if JPMorgan had made any specific requests for its review. A finance ministry spokesperson didn’t respond to calls seeking comments, while JPMorgan declined to comment.

India’s bonds will likely only be included in JPMorgan’s index early next year as the government still needs to address operational issues, Reuters reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter. 

India’s introduction of the so-called Fully Accessible Route in 2020, which removed limits on foreign ownership on some bonds, and other changes had bolstered investor optimism over index inclusion. The unrelenting stance on a tax waiver, that would facilitate settlement on a platform such as Euroclear, may undermine the attractiveness of Indian bonds even if they’re included.  

The government wants to be self-reliant in its funding, and is prepared to handle any selloff in its debt market should inclusion fail to happen, the people said. The nation is borrowing a record 14.3 trillion rupee ($176 billion) this fiscal year. 

FTSE Russell will unveil the results of its review on Thursday, a spokesperson said. JPMorgan hasn’t revealed a date as yet for its announcement. 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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