Retail Inflation Indexed Bonds aim at giving you higher returns than the CPI around that time which is a good way to safeguard savings against inflation. RBI is launching them in mid-December. If you have surplus money, you can think of investing in these bonds provided you do not need this money for a long time.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) plans to launch retail inflation-linked bonds in the second half of December. As we all know, inflation is high in India. As per Livemint, retail inflation, based on CPI, accelerated to 10.09% in October from 9.84% in September. This is mainly due to higher food prices. RBI has launched these bonds with an intention to shield people against negative returns on savings.
- Interest on these bonds would be based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) with a three-month lag (i.e. the CPI number 3 months before) plus 1.5%. It is compounded in the principal on a half-yearly basis and paid at the time of maturity. To understand further, long-term fixed income plans pay around 9% interest normally. But if the inflation rate is 10%, the fixed income plan delivers a return of minus 1% on the investment using simple calculation. So in current scenario, your savings are being eroded. The CPI-linked bonds will pay 1.5% above the inflation rate thus protecting savings from inflation.
- They are meant to be pure savings instruments as trading is not allowed. You as a holder of these bonds can nominate one or more persons and the bonds can be transferred to the nominees in the event of death.
- The bonds can also be used as collateral for loans from banks and non-banking financial companies.
- They have a more realistic benchmark in CPI, which is closer to reality than WPI (Wholesale Price Index)
What are the arguments against these instruments?
- These bonds have fixed and floating interest rates and these have to be explained clearly to investors, as such interest rates are a new concept.
- When the inflation rate is low, savers don’t stand to earn much through these bonds and once people are used to higher rates, they may not like the lower rates.
- Interest is paid only at redemption or maturity so these bonds cannot be a source of regular income
- Early redemption is possible after one year for senior citizens and after three years for others but a penalty will be charged. Moreover you have to be 65 or above to be considered as senior citizen in case of these bonds.
Considering all features, these are a good hedge against inflation which is not available to retail investors till now. But one should invest surplus money only in these instruments and not remove money from other long-term instruments and invest in these bonds.