For Indians, gold is more than a precious metal. In fact, the reverence for gold is beyond its market value for a common man. However, the making charges of gold can be quite high. Therefore, Government of India and RBI have come up with many alternatives like gold ETFs, gold bonds etc. Here, you can own gold in ‘certificate’ format. This article explores Sovereign Gold Bonds in detail.
The government of India lately introduced Sovereign Gold Bond Schemes to offer investors another way to own gold. Hence, it belongs to the debt fund category. It not only brought down the demand for real gold, but could also track import-export of the same. There is a transparency about this product as it comes under the purview of RBI. People who see gold more as an investment than an accessory (ornament), can opt for this. So, they need not waste money on making charges. Nor do they have to find ways (like hiring a bank locker) to store it safely. SGBs are government securities and hence safe. Their value is denominated in multiples of gold grams. This is why, it is a substitute for investing in physical gold. If you want to purchase a bond, just approach any agent, authorized by SEBI. After redeeming the bond, they will deposit the corpus (as per the current market value) to your registered bank account.
Who should invest in SGBs?
People who have a penchant for gold investments can consider sovereign gold bonds. As a low-risk investment, it is perfect for investors with low risk appetite. It also earns you a fixed income bi-annually. Therefore, if all these appeal to you, you can certainly consider buying an SGB. Compared to physical gold, the cost to purchase or sell SGBs are quite low. The expense of buying or selling the SGB is nominal in comparison to the physical gold. Those who do not want the hassle of keeping physical gold safe can also go for this. This is because it is easy to store this in demat form, and nobody can steal it as they are in paper form. So, if you are seeking a long-term investment avenue to make good returns, a gold bond can meet your needs.
Features of Sovereign Gold Bonds
a. Eligibility criteria
Any Indian resident – individuals, Trusts, HUFs, Charitable Institutions and universities – can invest in SGB. You may also invest on behalf of a minor.
The value of the bonds is assessed in multiples of gram(s) of gold, wherein the basic unit is 1 gram. The minimum initial investment is 1 gram of gold, and the upper limit is 4 kgs of gold per investor (individual & HUF). For entities like trusts and universities, 20 kgs of gold is permissible.
The bond’s maturity period is for 8 years. However, you can choose to exit the bond from 5th year onwards (only on interest payout dates).
d. Price & payment
You can pay online, by cash (only up to Rs. 20,000), DD or cheque. There will be a service charge deduction of Rs. 50 of those who pay online.
e. Interest rate
The current interest rate for SGB is 2.50% annually. They are paid twice a year on the nominal value. Returns are usually linked to the current market price of gold.
f. Issuance of bonds
Only Government of India Stocks (on RBI’s behalf) can issue gold bonds as per the GS Act, 2006. Investors will receive a Holding Certificate for it. You can also convert it to demat form.
g. KYC Documentation
You must follow the same Know-your-customer (KYC) norms when you buy physical gold. Hence, keep the KYC documents like copy of Driving License, PAN Card, Passport or Voter ID with you.
h. Tax treatment
There is no tax deducted at source on the proceeds from sovereign gold bond redemption. You can also claim indexation benefits along with long term capital gains when you decide to transfer the bond. So its tax implications are different from that of gold ETFs.
i. Eligibility for SLR
If banks have acquired bonds after going through the process of raising lien, hypothecation or pledging, they get counted towards SLR. The capital a commercial bank has to retain before giving credit to customers is called Statutory Liquidity Ratio.
j. Redemption price
The redemption price must be in INR, based on average of closing price of gold of 999 purity in 3 previous working days.
k. Sales channel
The government sells bonds through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL) and selected post offices as may be informed. The trading also occur via recognized stock exchanges (National Stock Exchange of India or Bombay Stock Exchange) directly or through intermediaries.
The receiving offices shall levy 1% of the overall subscription amount as commission for bond distribution of the bond. From this commission, they will share at least half with intermediaries (agents or brokers).
Advantages of Sovereign Gold Bonds
a. Absolute safety
Sovereign gold bonds carry none of the risks that is associated with physical gold, except the market risks. There is no hefty designing charge or TDS here. Therefore, nobody can steal it or change its ownership.
b. Extra income
You can earn guaranteed annual interest at the rate of 2.50% (on the issue price). This is the most recent fixed rate.
c. Indexation benefit
If you transfer your bond before maturity, you can get indexation benefits. There is also a sovereign guarantee on the redemption money as well as on the interest earned.
You can trade the gold sovereign bonds on stock exchanges within a specific date (at the discretion of the issuer). For instance, after completing 5 years of investment, you can trade them on National Stock Exchange or Bombay Stock Exchange among others.
Some banks accept SGB as collateral/security against secured loans. Hence, they will treat it as a gold loan after setting the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio to the value of gold. The India Bullion and Jewellers Association Limited determines this.