Sat, 04 Feb 2023

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], January 23 (ANI): As part of an initiative to develop bond markets, markets regulator Sebi has organised an outreach programme on municipal bonds and municipal finance. The programme discussed the concerns of the issuers of municipal debt securities, the requirements of investors, the extant regulatory framework and measures to increase awareness of and improve traction in the market for municipal debt securities.

The two-day event saw participants representing all stakeholders including the ministry of housing and urban affairs, municipal corporations, stock exchanges, credit rating agencies, merchant bankers, debenture trustees, lawyers, NGOs and institutional investors. Participants at the workshop had detailed discussions among various stakeholders on their concerns, suggestions and recommendations. The two-day event on January 20-21 also brought to focus the use of existing revenue-generating assets managed by municipal corporations and the financing of green projects undertaken by municipal corporations.

During her keynote speech during the event, Securities and Exchange Board of India Chairperson Madhabi Puri Buch emphasised the potential of municipal bonds in infrastructure development and nation-building.

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs Additional Secretary Thara D in her address assured the municipalities that the government would support municipal corporations which desire to raise funds through municipal bonds.

To assist municipal debt issuers and other stakeholders in the municipal debt market, SEBI Whole-Time Member Ashwani Bhatia launched an information database including a repository of information pertaining to municipal bonds on its website.

The information database can also be accessed by way of a Quick Response Code (QR Code). The information database contains a wide range of information in the form of statistics and regulations, circulars, guidance note and frequently asked questions issued by SEBI in respect of municipal debt securities.

Significantly, the repository contains various checklists for pre-listing requirements and sample letters and certificates from various intermediaries to be obtained by an issuer who plans to tap the municipal bond market.

Templates for agreements between various stakeholders and an indicative Due Diligence Questionnaire for merchant bankers are also included. While this repository would serve as a guide, it is also hoped that it would result in more awareness.

SEBI, in 2015, introduced a regulatory framework for the issue, listing and trading of municipal debt securities; the same was further reviewed by SEBI in 2019. Municipal bonds are a good alternative source of finance to fund projects undertaken by municipal corporations. In India, the municipal debt market is in a nascent stage. SEBI is taking steps to increase awareness through such events.

Since 2017, 12 issues of municipal bonds have been made by 10 municipal corporations in the country, raising almost Rs 2,000 crore. The funds raised have been used for various developmental projects like liquid waste management projects, water supply projects, tertiary sewage treatment plants, residential projects etc. (ANI)

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