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Q1. What is meant by BOP? How are capital account convertibility and current account convertibility different? What is the current scenario in India?


Ans:- The balance of payments (or BOP) of a country is a record of international transactions between residents of one country and the rest of the world over a specified period, usually a year. Thus, India’s balance of payments accounts record transactions between Indian residents and the rest of the world. International transactions include exchanges of goods, services
or assets. The term “residents” means businesses, individuals and government agencies and includes citizens temporarily living abroad but excludes local subsidiaries of foreign corporations.
The balance of payments is a sources-and-uses-of-funds statement. Transactions such as exports of goods and services that earn foreign exchange are recorded as credit, plus, or cash inflows (sources). Transactions such as imports of goods and services that expend foreign exchange are recorded as debit, minus, or cash outflows (uses).
The Balance of Payments for a country is the sum of the Current Account, the Capital Account and the change in Official Reserves.
The current account is that balance of payments account in which all short-term flows of payments are listed. It is the sum of net sales from trade in goods and services, net investment income (interest and dividend), and net unilateral transfers (private transfer payments and government transfers) from abroad. Investment income for a country is the payment made to its residents who are holders of foreign financial assets (includes interest on bonds and loans, dividends and other claims on profits) and payments made to its citizens who are temporary workers abroad. Unilateral transfers are official government grants-in-aid to foreign governments, charitable giving (e.g., famine relief) and migrant workers’ transfers to families in their home countries. Net investment income and net transfers are small relative to imports and exports. Therefore a current account surplus indicates positive net exports or a trade surplus and a current account deficit indicates negative net exports or a trade deficit.
The capital (or financial) account is that balance of payments account in which all cross-border transactions involving financial assets are listed. All purchases or sales of assets, including direct investment (FDI) securities (portfolio investment) and bank claims and liabilities are listed in the capital account. When Indian citizens buy foreign securities or when foreigners buy Indian securities, they are listed here as outflows and inflows, respectively. When domestic residents purchase more financial assets in foreign economies than what foreigners purchase of domestic assets, there is a net capital outflow. If foreigners purchase more Indian financial assets than domestic residents spend on foreign financial assets, then there will be a net capital inflow. A capital account surplus indicates net capital inflows or negative net foreign investment. A capital account deficit indicates net capital outflows or positive net foreign investment.
Current scenario in India
The official reserves account (ORA) records the total reserves held by the official monetary authorities (central banks) within the country. These reserves are normally composed of the major currencies used in international trade and financial transactions. The reserves consist of “hard” currencies (such as US dollar, British Pound, Euro, Yen), official gold reserve and IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDR). The reserves are held by central banks to cushion against instability in international markets. The level of reserves changes because of the central bank’s intervention in the foreign exchange markets. Countries that try to control the price of their currency (set the exchange rate) have large net changes in their Official Reserve Accounts. In general, a net decrease in the Official Reserve Account indicates that a country is buying its currency in exchange for foreign exchange reserves, to try to keep the value of the domestic currency high with respect to foreign currencies. Countries with net increases in the Official Reserve Account are usually attempting to keep the price of the domestic currency cheap relative to foreign currencies, by selling their currencies and buying the foreign exchange reserves. When a central bank sells its reserves (foreign currencies) for the domestic currency in the foreign exchange market, it is a credit item in the balance of payment accounts as it makes available foreign currencies. Similarly, when a central bank buys reserves (foreign currency), it is a debit item in the balance of payment accounts.
The Balance of Payments identity states that: Current Account + Capital Account = Change in Official Reserve Account. If a country runs a current account deficit and it does not run down its official reserve to cover this deficit (there is no change in official reserve), then the current account deficit must be balanced by a capital account surplus. Typically, in countries with floating exchange rate system, the change in official reserves in a given year is small relative to the Current Account and the Capital Account. Therefore, it can be approximated by zero. Thus, such a country can only consume more than it produces (or imports are greater than exports; a current account deficit) only if it has a capital account surplus (foreign residents are willing to invest in the country). Even in a fixed exchange rate system, the size of the official reserve account is small compared to the transactions in the current and capital account. Thus the residents of a country cannot have a current account deficit (imports exceeding exports) unless the foreigners are willing to invest in that country (capital account surplus).

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