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Sovereign Gold Bonds Are Back! Should You Invest?

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Sovereign Gold Bonds Scheme 2020-21

While SGBs are available at an attractive price, investors must prefer gold ETFs for they don’t come with any sort of lock-in period.

By: Tavaga Research

Sovereign Gold Bonds Scheme 2020-21 

RBI announced the twelfth tranche of Sovereign Gold Bonds (SGBs), which started on 31st May , 2021, and will close on June 4th, 2021. The latest tranche marks the last such issue of this financial year.

As per an old RBI report, more than 46 tranches have been issued since the inception of the scheme in November 2015. The aggregate amount raised from the bond issues is more than Rs 10,000 crores, which translates into more than 31 tonnes as of the fiscal year ending March 2021. 12 tranches had been issued by RBI  in the FY 2020-21 amounting to around Rs 16,049 crores (approx. 32.35 tonnes).

Sovereign Gold Bonds Online

The price of the issue for tranche III of SGB is fixed at Rs 4,889 per gram. However, the investors may avail a discount of Rs 50 per gram by applying for the issue online and making the payment against the application. Therefore, the effective cost comes down to Rs 4,839 per gram.

Sovereign Gold Bond Rate

Detail Previous Tranche – Tranche II Current Tranche – Tranche III  
Issue
date
March 1st – March 5th, 2021 May 31st – June 4th, 2021
Issue
price
Rs 4,612 per gram Rs 4,839 per gram  

Source: RBI Bulletin, Tavaga Research

Sovereign Gold Bonds Meaning

Sovereign Gold Bonds (SGBs) are government securities mandated by the RBI and denominated in grams of gold. Sovereign Gold Bonds were introduced by the RBI in November 2015 as a substitute for holding physical gold. The sovereign gold bonds are issued by RBI on behalf of the government.

The price of a sovereign gold bond is
calculated through an average of the closing prices of the 999 purity gold for
the last 3 days set by the IBJA (Indian Bullion and Jewellers Association
Limited).

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What are the Features of the Sovereign Gold Bonds?

1.Source of Income: The investor is assured of capital gains depending upon the market value of the gold at the time of maturity. Apart from the capital gains, the SGB investor earns a fixed rate of interest of 2.5% p.a. on the investment amount. The interest is credited to the bank account semi-annually.

2. Tenor: The SGBs have a fixed tenor of 8 years with premature redemptions permitted after the 5th year from the issuance date.

3. Risks involved: The sovereignty of the bond ensures no credit risk unlike other corporate debt and hence, the SGBs are only exposed to price risk if the gold price declines.

4. Eligibility: A person who’s an Indian resident as per the FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act), 1999 is permitted to invest in the SGBs. Individuals, trusts, HUFs, charitable institutions, and universities are eligible to invest.

5. Investment limit: The minimum investment will be one gram of gold for every person and the maximum investment for an individual and a HUF will be 4 kg.

6. Process of application: Banks and other designated financial institutions can provide an online application facility. For offline applications, banks, designated post offices, and agents can provide forms. The application form is also available on RBI’s website.

7. Taxation: The capital gains from the redemption of the SGBs are tax exempted but the interest is taxable as per the income tax slab.

Other Features: 

  1. Guardians can invest on behalf of the minor, making the minor eligible to invest in the SGB.
  2. Investors applying online will be given a discount of Rs. 50 per gram.
  3. The sovereign gold bonds can be used as collateral for loans from financial institutions.

Advantages of buying the Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2020-21:

  1. Portfolio diversification: Negative correlation with equities and fixed income instruments makes gold an attractive form of investment.
  2. No credit risk: As the name suggests, the Sovereign gold bonds are sovereign in nature with government backing and hence there is no credit risk involved.
  3. Convenience: With no storage costs and the risk of holding physical gold, investing in Sovereign Gold Bonds is hassle-free.
  4. Taxation: Sovereign gold bond is the only debt product whose capital gains are tax exempted.
  5. Loan Against Bonds facility: The sovereign gold bonds can be used as collateral for loans up to 75% of the market value.
  6. Inflation Hedge: Gold tends to hold its value during the episodes of high inflation while the local currency loses its purchasing power making gold a good inflation hedge.

Disadvantages of buying the Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2020-21 Series 12:

  1. Lock-in: With a fixed tenor of 8 years, premature redemptions in sovereign gold bonds are only allowed after the 5th year of the date of issuance, until then no withdrawal is permitted. However, an investor can consider selling the bond on stock exchanges anytime if he/she holds the bond in a dematerialized form. The liquidity in SGBs is very low, and the investor could end up selling the bonds at a heavy discount
  2. Market Risks: Being a commodity, gold is exposed to price fluctuations and hence with a decline in gold prices, the capital gains can decrease.

Gold ETF v/s the Sovereign Gold Bonds

  1. Liquidity: While both the instruments are tradable on a stock exchange, the liquidity offered by the gold ETF is comparatively higher than the sovereign gold bond.
  2. Lock-in: There are no restrictions on the sale of Gold ETF units after purchasing them. The sale has to happen during stock market hours. In the case of SGBs, once allotted, there is a lock-in of 5 years.
  3. Collateral for loan: As mentioned above, the SGBs can be used as collateral for loans while there is no facility for loans against gold ETFs.
  4. Investment limit: In the case of gold ETFs, there is no maximum investment limit unlike SGBs, where the maximum investment limit is 4 kg for individuals.
  5. Return: Apart from capital gains, an investor also receives a fixed coupon of 2.5% on the initial investment in the SGBs. There is no interest/coupon on the gold ETF. An investor only benefits through the appreciation of gold prices.

Is Sovereign Gold Bond a good investment?

Analysts express optimism over the presence of gold in an investment portfolio under the current market conditions. With the fiscal deficit mounting and the countries expanding their balance sheets, central banks will look to increase their exposure to the yellow metal. Low-interest rates in the economy also support the appreciation of gold prices.

Furthermore, with the uncertainty looming in the debt markets, a moderate 10-20 percent allocation toward gold will not hurt the portfolio. Gold has also corrected from its record highs in August indicating a buying opportunity.

Gold offers diversification benefits and serves as an inflation hedge. SGB not only offers all the benefits associated with physical gold but also holds numerous advantages, which makes SGB an investment worth exploring.

FM Nirmala Sitharaman in her historic budget speech of 2021 fulfilled a long-standing industry demand by slashing the duty on gold & silver from the current 12.5% to 7.5%. This has also resulted in a dip in gold prices and hence, investing in the ongoing SGB issue makes sense, only if the bondholder is ready to bear the lock-in period of 8 years.

For investors who are not in favor of the lock-in period, must stick to gold ETFs which are also available at an attractive price.

Sovereign Gold Bond Returns

SGB Series NSE Code Issue Date Issue Price Interest Paid
(Rs)
Returns since
launch
SGB-2015-Sr. I SGBNOV23 30/11/2015 2,684 295 84%
SGB-2016-Sr. I SGBFEB24 08/02/2016 2,600 286 89%
SGB-2016-Sr. II SGBMAR24 29/03/2016 2,916 321 70%
SGB-2016-17-Sr. I SGBAUG24 05/08/2016 3,119 300 59%
SGB-2016-17-Sr. II SGBSEP24 23/09/2016 3,150 303 57%
SGB-2016-17-Sr. III SGBNOV24 17/11/2016 2,957 226 64%
SGB-2016-17-Sr. IV SGBMAR25 13/03/2017 2,893 221 67%

Source: The Hindu Business Line, RBI

How to apply for Sovereign Gold Bond Scheme 2020-21 Series 12?

  1. Online: An investor intending to apply for sovereign gold bonds 2020-21 can apply online through the website of scheduled commercial banks or through the stockbroker
  2. Offline: An investor can apply for the sovereign gold bond scheme 2020-21 series1 by filling the application form issued by the RBI. Scheduled Commercial banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited, Post offices, and other designated agents can provide the application form. The application form can also be downloaded from the RBI websi

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