T Rabi Sankar: India's capital account management – an assessment

Speech delivered by Mr T Rabi Sankar, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, at the Fifth Foreign Exchange Dealers' Association of India (FEDAI) Annual Day, virtual, 14 October 2021.

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
18 October 2021

1. In the previous FEDAI Annual Day address in November 2020, Governor Shri Shaktikanta Das had observed that CAC will continue to be approached "as a process rather than an event". What I will do in this address is to expand on that theme and bring into focus some of the important issues on which, in my opinion, further public debate is warranted, to continue along this process of capital account convertibility.

What is capital account convertibility?

2. The balance of payments (BOP) of a country records all economic transactions of a country (that is, of its individuals, businesses and governments) with the rest of the world during a defined period, usually one year. These transactions are broadly divided into two heads – current account and capital account. The current account covers exports and imports of goods and services, factor income and unilateral transfers. The capital account records the net change in foreign assets and liabilities held by a country. Convertibility refers to the ability to convert domestic currency into foreign currencies and vice versa to make payments for balance of payments transactions. Current account convertibility is the ability or freedom to convert domestic currency for current account transactions while capital account convertibility is the ability or freedom to convert domestic currency for capital account transactions. The Tarapore Committee (2006), for instance, defined capital account convertibility as the "freedom to convert local financial assets into foreign financial assets and vice versa."

3. The degree of BOP convertibility of a country usually depends on the level of its economic development and degree of maturity of its financial markets. Therefore, advanced economies (AEs) are almost fully convertible while emerging market economies (EMEs) are convertible to different degrees.