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India's forex reserves cross $500 billion-mark

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India’s forex reserves have now crossed the $ 500 billion mark in the week ended June 12. According to the data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the reserves reached $ 501.7 billion, marking an increase of $ 8.22 billion in a week. Reserves had surged $3.43 billion to a fresh all-time high of $493.48 billion in the week-ended May 29.

What is its significance?

Adequate forex reserves are key for a healthy economy. It gives the much needed cushion to the economy in the event of an economic crisis to support the imports. India, at one point, had weak forex cover. In 1991, the country had to pledge gold to raise money. At the current level, India has enough reserves to cover imports of over a year.

What are the components of forex reserves?

Forex reserves consist of foreign currency assets, gold reserves, special drawing rights and reserves in IMF. Of these, foreign currency assets are the biggest component followed by gold.

What is the use of forex reserves for RBI?

RBI, time to time, intervenes in forex markets to balance the volatility in currency markets. It either buys dollars to release rupee into the market or sell dollars to support rupee. Also, as mentioned earlier, forex reserves are handy if the economy plunges into a crisis.

What is supporting the forex reserves despite the economic slump?

According to rating agency CARE, forex reserves continue to register higher levels every week reflecting the strong external situation of the economy due to lower trade deficit and higher capital inflows on account of foreign investment. ECB registrations too have been higher during this period due to the favourable interest rate differential as well as stable rupee. Strong inward investments in the form of portfolio investments and rise in foreign currency assets have supported forex reserves.

Is there any other way India can use forex reserves?

There have been opinions that India should use its forex reserves for infrastructure financing. Some experts have opined that the country doesn’t need to keep high level of forex reserves idle but can use part of it for other development activities, mainly to give a push to infrastructure. But not all experts agree on this point.