Government Securities


. What is a Government Security?

1.1 A Government security is a tradable instrument issued by the Central Government or the State Governments. It acknowledges the Government’s debt obligation.  Such securities are short term (usually called treasury bills, with original maturities of less than one year) or long term (usually called Government bonds or dated securities with original maturity of one year or more).  In India, the Central Government issues both, treasury bills and bonds or dated securities while the State Governments issue only bonds or dated securities, which are called the State Development Loans (SDLs).  Government securities carry practically no risk of default and, hence, are called risk-free gilt-edged instruments. Government of India also issues savings instruments (Savings Bonds, National Saving Certificates (NSCs), etc.) or special securities (oil bonds, Food Corporation of India bonds, fertiliser bonds, power bonds, etc.). They are, usually not fully tradable and are, therefore, not eligible to be SLR securities.

a. Treasury Bills (T-bills)

1.2 Treasury bills or T-bills, which are money market instruments, are short term debt instruments issued by the Government of India and are presently issued in three tenors, namely, 91 day, 182 day and 364 day. Treasury bills are zero coupon securities and pay no interest. They are issued at a discount and redeemed at the face value at maturity. For example, a 91 day Treasury bill of Rs.100/- (face value) may be issued at say Rs. 98.20, that is, at a discount of say, Rs.1.80 and would be redeemed at the face value of Rs.100/-. The return to the investors is the difference between the maturity value or the face value (that is Rs.100) and the issue price (for calculation of yield on Treasury Bills please see answer to question no. 26). The Reserve Bank of India conducts auctions usually every Wednesday to issue T-bills. Payments for the T-bills purchased are made on the following Friday. The 91 day T-bills are auctioned on every Wednesday. The Treasury bills of 182 days and 364 days tenure are auctioned on alternate Wednesdays. T-bills of  of 364 days tenure are auctioned on the Wednesday preceding the reporting Friday while 182 T-bills are auctioned on the Wednesday prior to a non-reporting Fridays. The Reserve Bank releases an annual calendar of T-bill issuances for a financial year in the last week of March of the previous financial year. The Reserve Bank of India announces the issue details of T-bills through a press release every week.

b. Cash Management Bills (CMBs)

1.3 Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India, has decided to issue a new short-term instrument, known as Cash Management Bills (CMBs), to meet the temporary mismatches in the cash flow of the Government. The CMBs have the generic character of T-bills but are issued for maturities less than 91 days. Like T-bills, they are also issued at a discount and redeemed at face value at maturity. The tenure, notified amount and date of issue of the CMBs depends upon the temporary cash requirement of the Government. The announcement of their auction is made by Reserve Bank of India through a Press Release which will be issued one day prior to the date of auction. The settlement of the auction is on T+1 basis. The non-competitive bidding scheme (referred to in paragraph number 4.3 and 4.4 under question No. 4) has not been extended to the CMBs. However, these instruments are tradable and qualify for ready forward facility. Investment in CMBs is also reckoned as an eligible investment in Government securities by banks for SLR purpose under Section 24 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. First set of CMBs were issued on May 12, 2010.

c. Dated Government Securities

1.4 Dated Government securities are long term securities and carry a fixed or floating  coupon (interest rate) which is paid on the face value, payable at fixed time periods (usually half-yearly). The tenor of dated securities can be up to 30 years.

The Public Debt Office (PDO) of the Reserve Bank of India acts as the registry / depository of Government securities and deals with the issue, interest payment and repayment of principal at maturity. Most of the dated securities are fixed coupon securities.

The nomenclature of a typical dated fixed coupon Government security contains the following features - coupon, name of the issuer, maturity and face value.  For example, 7.49% GS 2017 would mean:

Coupon                                      : 7.49% paid on face value
Name of Issuer                           : Government of India
Date of Issue                              : April 16, 2007
Maturity                                     : April 16, 2017
Coupon Payment Dates              : Half-yearly (October 16 and April 16) every year
Minimum Amount of issue/ sale   : Rs.10,000

In case there are two securities with the same coupon and are maturing in the same year, then one of the securities will have the month attached as suffix in the nomenclature. For example, 6.05% GS 2019 FEB, would mean that Government security having coupon 6.05 % that mature in February 2019 along with the other security with the same coupon, namely,, 6.05% 2019 which is maturing in June 2019.

If the coupon payment date falls on a Sunday or a holiday, the coupon payment is made on the next working day. However, if the maturity date falls on a Sunday or a holiday, the redemption proceeds are paid on the previous working day itself.

1.5 The details of all the dated securities issued by the Government of India are available on the RBI website at Just as in the case of Treasury Bills, dated securities of both, Government of India and State Governments, are issued by Reserve Bank through auctions. The Reserve Bank announces the auctions a week in advance through press releases. Government Security auctions are also announced through advertisements in major dailies. The investors, are thus, given adequate time to plan for the purchase of government securities through such auctions.

A specimen of a dated security in physical form is given at Annex 1.

1.6 Instruments:

  1. Fixed Rate Bonds – These are bonds on which the coupon rate is fixed for the entire life of the bond.  Most Government bonds are issued as fixed rate bonds.

    For example – 8.24%GS2018 was issued on April 22, 2008 for a tenor of 10 years maturing on April 22, 2018. Coupon on this security will be paid half-yearly at 4.12% (half yearly payment being the half of the annual coupon of 8.24%) of the face value on October 22 and April 22 of each year.

  2. Floating Rate Bonds – Floating Rate Bonds are securities which do not have a fixed coupon rate. The coupon is re-set at pre-announced intervals (say, every six months or one year) by adding a spread over a base rate. In the case of most floating rate bonds issued by the Government of India so far,the base rate is the weighted average cut-off yield of the last three 364- day Treasury Bill auctions preceding the coupon re-set date and the spread is decided through the auction. Floating Rate Bonds were first issued in September 1995 in India.

    For example, a Floating Rate Bond was issued on July 2, 2002 for a tenor of 15 years, thus maturing on July 2, 2017. The base rate on the bond for the coupon payments was fixed at 6.50% being the weighted average rate of implicit yield on 364-day Treasury Bills during the preceding six auctions. In the bond auction, a cut-off spread (markup over the benchmark rate) of 34 basis points (0.34%) was decided. Hence the coupon for the first six months was fixed at 6.84%.

  3. Zero Coupon Bonds – Zero coupon bonds are bonds with no coupon payments. Like Treasury Bills, they are issued at a discount to the face value. The Government of India issued such securities in the nineties, It has not issued zero coupon bond after that.

  4. Capital Indexed Bonds – These are bonds, the principal of which is linked to an accepted index of inflation with a view to protecting the holder from inflation. A capital indexed bond, with the principal hedged against inflation, was issued in December 1997. These bonds matured in 2002. The government is currently working on a fresh issuance of Inflation Indexed Bonds wherein payment of both, the coupon and the principal on the bonds, will be linked to an Inflation Index (Wholesale Price Index). In the proposed structure, the principal will be indexed and the coupon will be calculated on the indexed principal. In order to provide the holders protection against actual inflation, the final WPI will be used for indexation.

  5. Bonds with Call/ Put Options – Bonds can also be issued with features of optionality wherein the issuer can have the option to buy-back (call option) or the investor can have the option to sell the bond (put option) to the issuer during the currency of the bond. 6.72%GS2012 was issued on July 18, 2002 for a maturity of 10 years maturing on July 18, 2012. The optionality on the bond could be exercised after completion of five years tenure from the date of issuance on any coupon date falling thereafter. The Government has the right to buyback the bond (call option) at par value (equal to the face value) while the investor has the right to sell the bond (put option) to the Government at par value at the time of any of the half-yearly coupon dates starting from July 18, 2007.

  6. Special Securities - In addition to Treasury Bills and dated securities issued by the Government of India under the market borrowing programme, the Government of India also issues, from time to time, special securities to entities like Oil Marketing Companies, Fertilizer Companies, the Food Corporation of India, etc. as compensation to these companies in lieu of cash subsidies. These securities are usually long dated securities carrying coupon with a spread of about 20-25 basis points over the yield of the dated securities of comparable maturity. These securities are, however, not eligible SLR securities but are eligible as collateral for market repo transactions. The beneficiary oil marketing companies may divest these securities in the secondary market to banks, insurance companies / Primary Dealers, etc., for raising cash.

  7. Steps are being taken to introduce new types of instruments like STRIPS (Separate Trading of Registered Interest and Principal of Securities). Accordingly, guidelines for stripping and reconstitution of Government securities have been issued. STRIPS are instruments wherein each cash flow of the fixed coupon security is converted into a separate tradable Zero Coupon Bond and traded. For example, when Rs.100 of the 8.24%GS2018 is stripped, each cash flow of coupon (Rs.4.12 each half year) will become coupon STRIP and the principal payment (Rs.100 at maturity) will become a principal STRIP. These cash flows are traded separately as independent securities in the secondary market. STRIPS in Government securities will ensure availability of sovereign zero coupon bonds, which will facilitate the development of a market determined zero coupon yield curve (ZCYC). STRIPS will also provide institutional investors with an additional instrument for their asset- liability management. Further, as STRIPS have zero reinvestment risk, being zero coupon bonds, they can be attractive to retail/non-institutional investors. The process of stripping/reconstitution of Government securities is carried out at RBI, Public Debt Office (PDO) in the PDO-NDS (Negotiated Dealing System) at the option of the holder at any time from the date of issuance of a Government security till its maturity. All dated Government securities, other than floating rate bonds, having coupon payment dates on 2nd January and 2nd July, irrespective of the year of maturity are eligible for Stripping/Reconstitution. Eligible Government securities held in the Subsidiary General Leger (SGL)/Constituent Subsidiary General Ledger (CSGL) accounts maintained at the PDO, RBI, Mumbai. Physical securities shall not be eligible for stripping/reconstitution. Minimum amount of securities that needs to be submitted for stripping/reconstitution will be Rs. 1 crore (Face Value) and multiples thereof.

d. State Development Loans (SDLs)

1.7 State Governments also raise loans from the market. SDLs are dated securities issued through an auction similar to the auctions conducted for dated securities issued by the Central Government (see question 3 below). Interest is serviced at half-yearly intervals and the principal is repaid on the maturity date. Like dated securities issued by the Central Government, SDLs issued by the State Governments qualify for SLR. They are also eligible as collaterals for borrowing through market repo as well as borrowing by eligible entities from the RBI under the Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF).

2. Why should one invest in Government securities?

2.1 Holding of cash in excess of the day-to-day needs of a bank does not give any return to it. Investment in gold has attendant problems in regard to appraising its purity, valuation, safe custody, etc. Investing in Government securities has the following advantages:

  • Besides providing a return in the form of coupons (interest), Government securities offer the maximum safety as they carry the Sovereign’s commitment for payment of interest and repayment of principal.

  • They can be held in book entry, i.e., dematerialized/ scripless form, thus, obviating the need for safekeeping.

  • Government securities are available in a wide range of maturities from 91 days to as long as 30 years to suit the duration of a bank's liabilities.

  • Government securities can be sold easily in the secondary market to meet cash requirements.

  • Government securities can also be used as collateral to borrow funds in the repo market.

  • The settlement system for trading in Government securities, which is based on Delivery versus Payment (DvP), is a very simple, safe and efficient system of settlement. The DvP mechanism ensures transfer of securities by the seller of securities simultaneously with transfer of funds from the buyer of the securities, thereby mitigating the settlement risk.

  • Government security prices are readily available due to a liquid and active secondary market and a transparent price dissemination mechanism.

  • Besides banks, insurance companies and other large investors, smaller investors like Co-operative banks, Regional Rural Banks, Provident Funds are also required to hold Government securities as indicated below:

A. Primary (Urban) Co-operative Banks

2.2 Section 24 of the Banking Regulation Act 1949, (as applicable to co-operative societies) provides that every primary (urban) cooperative bank shall maintain liquid assets, which at the close of business on any day, should not be less than 25 percent of its demand and time liabilities in India (in addition to the minimum cash reserve requirement). Such liquid assets shall be in the form of cash, gold or unencumbered Government and other approved securities. This is commonly referred to as the Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) requirement.

2.3 All primary (urban) co-operative banks (UCBs) are presently required to invest a certain minimum level of their SLR holdings in the form of Government and other approved securities as indicated below:

  1. Scheduled UCBs have to hold 25 per cent of their SLR requirement in Government and other approved securities.

  2. Non-scheduled UCBs with Demand and Time Liabilities (DTL) more than Rs. 25 crore have to hold 15 per cent of their SLR requirement in Government and other approved securities.

  3. Non-scheduled UCBs with DTL less than Rs. 25 crore have to hold 10 per cent of their SLR requirements in Government and other approved securities.

B. Rural Co-operative Banks


2.4 As per Section 24 of the Banking Regulation Act 1949, the State Co-operative Banks (SCBs) and the District Central Co-operative Banks (DCCBs) are required to maintain in cash, gold or unencumbered approved securities, valued at a price not exceeding the current market price, an amount which shall not, at the close of business on any day, be less than 25 per cent of its demand and time liabilities as part of the SLR requirement. DCCBs are allowed to meet their SLR requirement by maintaining cash balances with their respective State Co-operative Bank.

C. Regional Rural Banks (RRBs)

2.5 Since April 2002, all the RRBs are required to maintain their entire Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) holdings in Government and other approved securities. The current SLR requirement for the RRBs is 24 percent of their Demand and Time Liabilities (DTL).

2.6 Presently, RRBs have been exempted from the 'mark to market' norms in respect of their SLR-securities. Accordingly, RRBs have been given freedom to classify their entire investment portfolio of SLR-securities under 'Held to Maturity' and value them at book value.

D. Provident funds and other entities

2.7 The non-Government provident funds, superannuation funds and gratuity funds are required by the Central Government, effective from January 24, 2005, to invest 40 per cent of their incremental accretions in Central and State Government securities, and/or units of gilt funds regulated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and any other negotiable security fully and unconditionally guaranteed by the Central/State Governments. The exposure of a trust to any individual gilt fund, however, should not exceed five per cent of its total portfolio at any point of time.  The investment guidelines for non-government PFs have been recently revised in terms of which investments up to 55% of the investible funds are permitted in a basket of instruments consisting of Central Government securities, State Government securities and units of gilt funds, effective from April 2009.

3. How are the Government Securities issued?

3.1 Government securities are issued through auctions conducted by the RBI.  Auctions are conducted on the electronic platform called the NDS – Auction platform. Commercial banks, scheduled urban co-operative banks, Primary Dealers (a list of Primary Dealers with their contact details is given in Annex 2), insurance companies and provident funds, who maintain funds account (current account) and securities accounts (SGL account) with RBI, are members of this electronic platform. All members of PDO-NDS can place their bids in the auction through this electronic platform. All non-NDS members including non-scheduled urban co-operative banks can participate in the primary auction through scheduled commercial banks or Primary Dealers. For this purpose, the urban co-operative banks need to open a securities account with a bank / Primary Dealer – such an account is called a Gilt Account. A Gilt Account is a dematerialized account maintained by a scheduled commercial bank or Primary Dealer for its constituent (e.g., a non-scheduled urban co-operative bank).

3.2 The RBI, in consultation with the Government of India, issues an indicative half-yearly auction calendar which contains information about the amount of borrowing, the tenor of security and the likely period during which auctions will be held. A Notification and a Press Communique giving exact particulars of the securities, viz., name, amount, type of issue and procedure of auction are issued by the Government of India about a week prior to the actual date of auction. RBI places the notification and a Press Release on its website ( and also issues an advertisement in leading English and Hindi newspapers. Information about auctions is also available with the select branches of public and private sector banks and the Primary Dealers.

4. What are the different types of auctions used for issue of securities?

Prior to introduction of auctions as the method of issuance, the interest rates were administratively fixed by the Government. With the introduction of auctions, the rate of interest (coupon rate) gets fixed through a market based price discovery process.

4.1 An auction may either be yield based or price based.

  1. Yield Based Auction: A yield based auction is generally conducted when a new Government security is issued. Investors bid in yield terms up to two decimal places (for example, 8.19 per cent, 8.20 per cent, etc.). Bids are arranged in ascending order and the cut-off yield is arrived at the yield corresponding to the notified amount of the auction. The cut-off yield is taken as the coupon rate for the security. Successful bidders are those who have bid at or below the cut-off yield. Bids which are higher than the cut-off yield are rejected. An illustrative example of the yield based auction is given below:

Yield based auction of a new security

  • Maturity Date: September 8, 2018
  • Coupon: It is determined in the auction (8.22% as shown in the illustration below)
  • Auction date: September 5, 2008
  • Auction settlement date: September 8, 2008*
  • Notified Amount: Rs.1000 crore

* September 6 and 7 being holidays, settlement is done on September 8, 2008 under T+1 cycle.

Details of bids received in the increasing order of bid yields

Bid No.

Bid Yield

Amount of bid (Rs. crore)

Cummulative amount (Rs.Cr)

Price* with coupon as 8.22%









































The issuer would get the notified amount by accepting bids up to 5. Since the bid number 6 also is at the same yield, bid numbers 5 and 6 would get allotment pro-rata so that the notified amount is not exceeded. In the above case each would get Rs. 50 crore. Bid numbers 7 and 8 are rejected as the yields are higher than the cut-off yield.

*Price corresponding to the yield is determined as per the relationship given under YTM calculation in question 24.

  1. Price Based Auction: A price based auction is conducted when Government of India re-issues securities issued earlier. Bidders quote in terms of price per Rs.100 of face value of the security (e.g., Rs.102.00, Rs.101.00, Rs.100.00, Rs.99.00, etc., per Rs.100/-). Bids are arranged in descending order and the successful bidders are those who have bid at or above the cut-off price. Bids which are below the cut-off price are rejected. An illustrative example of price based auction is given below:

Price based auction of an existing security 8.24% GS 2018

  • Maturity Date: April 22, 2018
  • Coupon: 8.24%
  • Auction date: September 5, 2008
  • Auction settlement date: September 8, 2008*
  • Notified Amount: Rs.1000 crore

* September 6 and 7 being holidays, settlement is done on September 8, 2008 under T+1 cycle.

Details of bids received in the decreasing order of bid price

Bid no.

Price of bid

Amount of bid (Rs. Cr)


Cumulative amount









































The issuer would get the notified amount by accepting bids up to 5. Since the bid number 6 also is at the same price, bid numbers 5 and 6 would get allotment in proportion so that the notified amount is not exceeded. In the above case each would get Rs. 50 crore. Bid numbers 7 and 8 are rejected as the price quoted is less than the cut-off price.

4.2 Depending upon the method of allocation to successful bidders, auction could be classified as Uniform Price based and Multiple Price based. In a Uniform Price auction, all the successful bidders are required to pay for the allotted quantity of securities at the same rate, i.e., at the auction cut-off rate, irrespective of the rate quoted by them. On the other hand, in a Multiple Price auction, the successful bidders are required to pay for the allotted quantity of securities at the respective price / yield at which they have bid. In the example under (ii) above, if the auction was Uniform Price based, all bidders would get allotment at the cut-off price, i.e., Rs.100.20. On the other hand, if the auction was Multiple Price based, each bidder would get the allotment at the price he/ she has bid, i.e., bidder 1 at Rs.100.31, bidder 2 at Rs.100.26 and so on.

4.3 An investor may bid in an auction under either of the following categories:

i. Competitive Bidding : In a competitive bidding, an investor bids at a specific price / yield and is allotted securities if the price / yield quoted is within the cut-off price / yield. Competitive bids are made by well informed investors such as banks, financial institutions, primary dealers, mutual funds, and insurance companies. The minimum bid amount is Rs.10,000 and in multiples of Rs.10,000 thereafter. Multiple bidding is also allowed, i.e., an investor may put in several bids at various price/ yield levels.

ii. Non-Competitive Bidding : With a view to providing retail investors, who may lack skill and knowledge to participate in the auction directly, an opportunity to participate in the auction process, the scheme of non-competitive bidding in dated securities was introduced in January 2002. Non-competitive bidding is open to individuals, HUFs, RRBs, co-operative banks, firms, companies, corporate bodies, institutions, provident funds, and trusts. Under the scheme, eligible investors apply for a certain amount of securities in an auction without mentioning a specific price / yield. Such bidders are allotted securities at the weighted average price / yield of the auction. In the illustration given under 4.1 (ii) above, the notified amount being Rs.1000 crore, the amount reserved for non-competitive bidding will be Rs.50 crore (5 per cent of the notified amount as indicated below). Non-competitive bidders will be allotted at the weighted average price which is Rs.100.26 in the given illustration. The participants in non-competitive bidding are, however, required to hold a gilt account with a bank or PD. Regional Rural Banks and co-operative banks which hold SGL and Current Account with the RBI can also participate under the scheme of non-competitive bidding without holding a gilt account.

4.4 In every auction of dated securities, a maximum of 5 per cent of the notified amount is reserved for such non-competitive bids. In the case of auction for Treasury Bills, the amount accepted for non-competitive bids is over and above the notified amount and there is no limit placed. However, non-competitive bidding in Treasury Bills is available only to State Governments and other select entities and is not available to the co-operative banks. Only one bid is allowed to be submitted by an investor either through a bank or Primary Dealer. For bidding under the scheme, an investor has to fill in an undertaking and send it along with the application for allotment of securities through a bank or a Primary Dealer. The minimum amount and the maximum amount for a single bid is Rs.10,000 and Rs.2 crore respectively in the case of an auction of dated securities. A bank or a Primary Dealer can charge an investor up to maximum of 6 paise per Rs.100 of application money as commission for rendering their services. In case the total applications received for non-competitive bids exceed the ceiling of 5 per cent of the notified amount of the auction for dated securities, the bidders are allotted securities on a pro-rata basis.

4.5 Non-competitive bidding scheme has been introduced in the State Government securities (SDLs) from August 2009. The aggregate amount reserved for the purpose in the case of SDLs is 10% of the notified amount (Rs.100 Crore for a notified amount of Rs.1000 Crore) and the maximum amount an investor can bid per auction is capped at 1% of the notified amount (as against Rs.2 Crore in Central Government securities). The bidding and allotment procedure is similar to that of Central Government securities.

5. What are the Open Market Operations (OMOs)?

OMOs are the market operations conducted by the Reserve Bank of India by way of sale/ purchase of Government securities to/ from the market with an objective to adjust the rupee liquidity conditions in the market on a durable basis. When the RBI feels there is excess liquidity in the market, it resorts to sale of securities thereby sucking out the rupee liquidity. Similarly, when the liquidity conditions are tight, the RBI will buy securities from the market, thereby releasing liquidity into the market.

5 (b) What is meant by buyback of Government securities?

Buyback of Government securities is a process whereby the Government of India and State Governments buy back their existing securities from the holders. The objectives of buyback can be reduction of cost (by buying back high coupon securities), reduction in the number of outstanding securities and improving liquidity in the Government securities market (by buying back illiquid securities) and infusion of liquidity in the system. Governments make provisions in their budget for buying back of existing securities. Buyback can be done through an auction process or through the secondary market route, i.e., NDS/NDS-OM.

6. What is Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF)?

LAF is a facility extended by the Reserve Bank of India to the scheduled commercial banks (excluding RRBs) and primary dealers to avail of liquidity in case of requirement or park excess funds with the RBI in case of excess liquidity on an overnight basis against the collateral of Government securities including State Government securities. Basically LAF enables liquidity management on a day to day basis. The operations of LAF are conducted by way of repurchase agreements (repos and reverse repos – please refer to paragraph numbers 30.4 to 30.8 under question no. 30 for details) with RBI being the counter-party to all the transactions. The interest rate in LAF is fixed by the RBI from time to time. Currently the rate of interest on repo under LAF (borrowing by the participants) is 6.25% and that of reverse repo (placing funds with RBI) is 5.25%. LAF is an important tool of monetary policy and enables RBI to transmit interest rate signals to the market.

7. How and in what form can Government Securities be held?

7.1 The Public Debt Office (PDO) of the Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai acts as the registry and central depository for the Government securities. Government securities may be held by investors either as physical stock or in dematerialized form. From May 20, 2002, it is mandatory for all the RBI regulated entities to hold and transact in Government securities only in dematerialized (SGL) form. Accordingly, UCBs are required to hold all Government securities in demat form.

  1. Physical form:  Government securities may be held in the form of stock certificates.  A stock certificate is registered in the books of PDO. Ownership in stock certificates can not be transferred by way of endorsement and delivery. They are transferred by executing a transfer form as the ownership and transfer details are recorded in the books of PDO. The transfer of a stock certificate is final and valid only when the same is registered in the books of PDO. 

  2. Demat form: Holding government securities in the dematerialized or scripless form is the safest and the most convenient alternative as it eliminates the problems relating to custody, viz., loss of security. Besides, transfers and servicing are electronic and hassle free.  The holders can maintain their securities in dematerialsed form in either of the two ways:

    1. SGL Account:  Reserve Bank of India offers Subsidiary General Ledger Account (SGL) facility to select entities who can maintain their securities in SGL accounts maintained with the Public Debt Offices of the Reserve Bank of India.

    2. Gilt Account: As the eligibility to open and maintain an SGL account with the RBI is restricted, an investor has the option of opening a Gilt Account with a bank or a Primary Dealer which is eligible to open a Constituents' Subsidiary General Ledger Account (CSGL) with the RBI. Under this arrangement, the bank or the Primary Dealer, as a custodian of the Gilt Account holders, would maintain the holdings of its constituents in a CSGL account (which is also known as SGL II account) with the RBI. The servicing of securities held in the Gilt Accounts is done electronically, facilitating hassle free trading and maintenance of the securities. Receipt of maturity proceeds and periodic interest is also faster as the proceeds are credited to the current account of the custodian bank / PD with the RBI and the custodian (CSGL account holder) immediately passes on the credit to the Gilt Account Holders (GAH).

7.2 Investors also have the option of holding Government securities in a dematerialized account with a depository (NSDL / CDSL, etc.). This facilitates trading of Government securities on the stock exchanges.

8. How does the trading in Government securities take place?

8.1 There is an active secondary market in Government securities.  The securities can be bought / sold in the secondary market either (i) Over the Counter (OTC) or (ii) through the Negotiated Dealing System (NDS) or (iii) the Negotiated Dealing System-Order Matching (NDS-OM).

i. Over the Counter (OTC)/ Telephone Market

8.2 In this market, a participant, who wants to buy or sell a government security, may contact a bank / Primary Dealer / financial institution either directly or through a broker registered with SEBI and negotiate for a certain amount of a particular security at a certain price. Such negotiations are usually done on telephone and a deal may be struck if both counterparties agree on the amount and rate. In the case of a buyer, like an urban co-operative bank wishing to buy a security, the bank's dealer (who is authorized by the bank to undertake transactions in Government Securities) may get in touch with other market participants over telephone and obtain quotes. Should a deal be struck, the bank should record the details of the trade in a deal slip (specimen given at Annex 3) and send a trade confirmation to the counterparty. The dealer must exercise due diligence with regard to the price quoted by verifying with available sources (See question number 14 for information on ascertaining the price of Government securities). All trades undertaken in OTC market are reported on the secondary market module of the NDS, the details of which are given under the question number 15.

ii. Negotiated Dealing System

8.3 The Negotiated Dealing System (NDS) for electronic dealing and reporting of transactions in government securities was introduced in February 2002. It facilitates the members to submit electronically, bids or applications for primary issuance of Government Securities when auctions are conducted. NDS also provides an interface to the Securities Settlement System (SSS) of the Public Debt Office, RBI, Mumbai thereby facilitating settlement of transactions in Government Securities (both outright and repos) conducted in the secondary market. Membership to the NDS is restricted to members holding SGL and/or Current Account with the RBI, Mumbai.

8.4 In August, 2005, RBI introduced an anonymous screen based order matching module on NDS, called NDS-OM. This is an order driven electronic system, where the participants can trade anonymously by placing their orders on the system or accepting the orders already placed by other participants. NDS-OM is operated by the Clearing Corporation of India Ltd. (CCIL) on behalf of the RBI (Please see answer to the question no.19 about CCIL). Direct access to the NDS-OM system is currently available only to select financial institutions like Commercial Banks, Primary Dealers, Insurance Companies, Mutual Funds, etc. Other participants can access this system through their custodians, i.e., with whom they maintain Gilt Accounts. The custodians place the orders on behalf of their customers like the urban co-operative banks. The advantages of NDS-OM are price transparency and better price discovery.

8.5 Gilt Account holders have been given indirect access to NDS through custodian institutions. A member (who has the direct access) can report on the NDS the transaction of a Gilt Account holder in government securities. Similarly, Gilt Account holders have also been given indirect access to NDS-OM through the custodians. However, currently two gilt account holders of the same custodian are not permitted to undertake repo transactions between themselves.

iii. Stock Exchanges

8.6 Facilities are also available for trading in Government securities on stock exchanges (NSE, BSE) which cater to the needs of retail investors.

9. Who are the major players in the Government Securities market?

Major players in the Government securities market include commercial banks and primary dealers besides institutional investors like insurance companies. Primary Dealers play an important role as market makers in Government securities  market . Other participants include co-operative banks, regional rural banks, mutual funds, provident and pension funds. Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) are allowed to participate in the Government securities market within the quantitative limits prescribed from time to time. Corporates also buy/ sell the government securities to manage their overall portfolio risk.

10. What are the Do's and Don’ts prescribed by RBI for the Co-operative banks dealing in Government securities?

While undertaking transactions in securities, urban co-operative banks should adhere to the instructions issued by the RBI. The guidelines on transactions in government securities by the UCBs have been codified in the master circular UBD.BPD. (PCB). MC.No 12/16.20.000/2010-11 dated July 1, 2010 which is updated from time to time. This circular can also be accessed from the RBI website under the Notifications – Master circulars section ( The important guidelines to be kept in view by the UCBs relate to formulation of an investment policy duly approved by their Board of Directors, defining objectives of the policy, authorities and procedures to put through deals, dealings through brokers, preparing panel of brokers and review thereof at annual intervals, and adherence to the prudential ceilings fixed for transacting through each of the brokers, etc.

The important Do’s & Don’ts are summarized in the Box I below.

Do’s & Don’ts for Dealing in Government Securities


  • Segregate dealing and back-up functions. Officials deciding about purchase and sale transactions should be separate from those responsible for settlement and accounting.

  • Monitor all transactions to see that delivery takes place on settlement day. The funds account and investment account should be reconciled on the same day before close of business.

  • Keep a proper record of the SGL forms received/issued to facilitate counter-checking by their internal control systems/RBI inspectors/other auditors.

  • Seek a Scheduled Commercial Bank (SCB), a Primary Dealer (PD) or a Financial Institution (FI) as counterparty for transactions.

  • Give preference for direct deals with counter parties.

  • Use CSGL/ Gilt Accounts for holding the securities and maintain such accounts in the same bank with whom the cash account is maintained.

  • Insist on Delivery versus Payment for all transactions.

  • Take advantage of the non-competitive bidding facility for acquiring Government of India securities in the primary auctions conducted by the Reserve Bank of India.

  • Restrict the role of the broker to that of bringing the two parties to the deal together, if a deal is put through with the help of broker.

  • Have a list of approved brokers. Utilize only brokers registered with NSE or BSE or OTCEI for acting as intermediary.

  • Place a limit of 5% of total transactions (both purchases and sales) entered into by a bank during a year as the aggregate upper contract limit for each of the approved brokers. A disproportionate part of the business should not be transacted with or through one or a few brokers.

  • Maintain and transact in Government securities only in dematerialized form in SGL Account or Gilt Account maintained with the CSGL Account holder.

  • Open and maintain only one Gilt or dematerialized account.

  • Open a funds account for securities transactions with the same Scheduled Commercial bank or the State Cooperative bank with whom the Gilt Account is maintained.

  • Ensure availability of clear funds in the designated funds accounts for purchases and sufficient securities in the Gilt Account for sales before putting through the transactions.

  • Observe prudential limits for investment in permitted non-SLR securities (bonds of nationalized banks, unlisted securities, unlisted shares of all-India Financial Institutions and privately placed debt securities).

  • The Board of Directors to peruse all investment transactions at least once a month


  • Do not undertake any purchase/sale transactions with broking firms or other intermediaries on principal to principal basis.

  • Do not use brokers in the settlement process at all, i.e., both funds settlement and delivery of securities should be done with the counter-parties directly.

  • Do not give power of attorney or any other authorisation under any circumstances to brokers/intermediaries to deal on your behalf in the money and securities markets.

  • Do not undertake Government Securities transaction in the physical form with any broker.

  • Do not routinely make investments in non-SLR securities (e.g., corporate bonds, etc) issued by companies or bodies other than in the co-operative sector.

11. How are the dealing transactions recorded by the dealing desk?

11.1 For every transaction entered into by the trading desk, a deal slip should be generated which should contain data relating to nature of the deal, name of the counter-party, whether it is a direct deal or through a broker (if it is through a broker, name of the broker), details of security, amount, price, contract date and time and settlement date.  The deal slips should be serially numbered and verified separately to ensure that each deal slip has been properly accounted for.  Once the deal is concluded, the deal slip should be immediately passed on to the back office (it should be separate and distinct from the front office) for recording and processing.  For each deal, there must be a system of issue of confirmation to the counter-party.  The timely receipt of requisite written confirmation from the counter-party, which must include all essential details of the contract, should be monitored by the back office. With The need for counterparty confirmation of deals matched on NDS-OM will not arise, as NDS-OM is an anonymous automated order matching system. However, in case of trades finalized in the OTC market and reported on NDS, confirmations have to be submitted by the counterparties in the system i.e., NDS. Also, please see question no. 15.

11.2 Once a deal has been concluded through a broker, there should not be any substitution of the counter-party by the broker. Similarly, the security sold / purchased in a deal should not be substituted by another security under any circumstances. A maker-checker framework should be implemented to prevent any individual misdemeanor.  It should be ensured that the same person is not carrying out the functions of maker (one who inputs the data) and checker (one who verifies and authorizes the data) on the system.

11.3 On the basis of vouchers passed by the back office (which should be done after verification of actual contract notes received from the broker / counter party and confirmation of the deal by the counter party), the books of account should be independently prepared.

12. What are the important considerations while undertaking security transactions?

The following steps should be followed in purchase of a security:

  1. Which security to invest in – Typically this involves deciding on the maturity and coupon. Maturity is important because this determines the extent of risk an investor like an UCB is exposed to – higher the maturity, higher the interest rate risk or market risk. If the investment is largely to meet statutory requirements, it may be advisable to avoid taking undue market risk and buy securities with shorter maturity. Within the shorter maturity range (say 5-10 years) it would be safer to buy securities which are liquid, that is, securities which trade in relatively larger volumes in the market. The information about such securities can be obtained from the website of the CCIL (, which gives real-time secondary market trade data on NDS-OM. Since pricing is more transparent in liquid securities, prices for these securities are easily obtainable thereby reducing the chances of being misled/misinformed on the price in these cases. The coupon rate of the security is equ

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