New Delhi, Apr 4 (PTI) 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 today.

In the wake of Rs 13,000-crore PNB scam allegedly by diamond jewellery designer Nirav Modi and his associates 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.

Meanwhile, the impact on large-sized (revenue above Rs 7.5 billion) players is likely to be lower, said the Fitch group company.

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.

As a result, it said they are likely to report an increase in net working capital requirements, exerting further pressure on their liquidity profiles and, thus, increasing their fund-based limit utilisation or their need to seek additional limits.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.