Budget Proposals - AMFI FY 2018-19 - Direct Taxes Introduce Debt Linked Savings Scheme (DLSS) to encourage Long-Term Household Savings into Bond Market.

Association of Mutual Funds in India

Introduce Debt Linked Savings Scheme (DLSS) to encourage Long-Term Household Savings into Bond Market.


Over the past decade, India has emerged as one of the key markets in Asia. However, the Indian corporate bond market has remained comparatively small and shallow, which continues to impede companies needing access to low-cost finance.

As per the data from Asia Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association (ASIFMA), the corporate bond markets of Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore and China exceed that of India as a percentage of GDP.

Historically, the responsibility of providing debt capital in India has largely rested with the banking sector. This has resulted in adverse outcomes, such as accumulation of non-performing assets of the banks, lack of discipline among large borrowers and inability of the banking sector to provide credit to small enterprises. Indian banks are currently in no position to expand their lending portfolios till they sort out the existing bad loans problem.

Thus, there is a need for a vibrant bond market in India, to provide an alternative platform for raising debt finance and reduce dependence on the banking system.

Several committees [such as the R.H. Patil committee (2005), Percy Mistry committee (2007) and Raghuram Rajan committee (2009)] studied various aspects of the issue and have made recommendations, but the progress has not been as desired.

The heavy demands on bank funds by large companies, in effect, crowd out small enterprises from funding. India needs to eventually move to a financial system where large companies get most of their funds from the bond markets while banks focus on smaller enterprises.

While it is highly unlikely that the corporate bond market will ever replace banks as the primary source of funding, experts agree that India needs a more lively corporate bond market. This can also play a part in disciplining companies that borrow heavily from banks to fund risky projects, because the borrowing costs would spike.

While RBI & SEBI have taken the welcome steps in developing a vibrant corporate bond market in recent times, it is imperative that other stakeholders complement these efforts, considering the fact that with banks undertaking the much needed balance sheet repairs and a section of the corporate sector coming to terms with deleveraging, the onus of providing credit falls on the other players.

The Government’s plans to significantly increase investment in the infrastructure space will require massive funding and the banks are not suited to fund such investments. If large borrowers are pushed to raise funds from the market, it will increase issuance over time and attract more investors, which will also generate liquidity in the secondary market.

A vibrant corporate bond market is also important from an external vulnerability point of view, as a dependence on local currency and markets will lower risks.


It is proposed to introduce “Debt Linked Savings Scheme” (DLSS) on the lines of Equity Linked Savings Scheme, (ELSS), to channelize long-term savings of retail investors into corporate bond market which would help deepen the Indian Bond Market.

At least 80 per cent of the funds collected under DLSS shall be invested in debentures and bonds of companies as permitted under SEBI Mutual Fund Regulations.
Pending investment of the funds in the required manner, the funds may be invested in short-term money market instruments or other liquid instruments or both.
It is further proposed that the investments upto ₹1,50,000 under DLSS be eligible for tax benefit under Chapter VI A, under a separate sub-Section and subject to a lock in period of 5 years (just like tax saving bank Fixed Deposits).
CBDT may issue appropriate guidelines / notification in this regard as done in respect of ELSS


To deepen the Indian Bond Market and strengthen the efforts taken by RBI and SEBI for increasing penetration in the corporate bond markets, it is expedient to channelize long-term savings of retail segment into corporate bond market through Mutual funds on the same lines as ELSS.

In 1992, the Government had notified the Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS) with a view to encourage investments in equity instruments. Over the years, ELSS has been an attractive investment option for retail investors.
The introduction of DLSS will help small investors participate in bond markets at low costs and at a lower risk as compared to equity markets.

This will also bring debt oriented mutual funds on par with tax saving bank fixed deposits, where deduction is available under Section 80C.


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