Current account convertibility refers to freedom in respect of payments and transfers for current international transactions. In other words, if Indians are allowed to buy only foreign goods and services but restrictions remain on the purchase of assets abroad, it is only current account convertibility. As of now, convertibility of the rupee into foreign currencies is almost wholly free for current account i.e. in case of transactions such as trade, travel and tourism, education abroad etc.
The Government of India introduced a system of Partial Rupee Convertibility (PCR) (Current Account Convertibility) on February 29,1992 as part of the Fiscal Budget for 1992-93. PCR is designed to provide a powerful boost to export as well as to achieve as efficient import substitution. It is designed to reduce the scope for bureaucratic controls, which contribute to delays and inefficiency. Government liberalized the flow of foreign exchange to include items like amount of foreign currency that can be procured for purpose like travel abroad, studying abroad, engaging the service of foreign consultants etc. What it means that people are allowed to have access to foreign currency for buying a whole range of consumables products and services. These relaxations coincided with the liberalization on the industry and commerce front which is why we have Honda City cars, Mars chocolate and Bacardi in India.
Components of Current Account
Covered in the current account are all transactions (other than those in financial items) that involve economic values and occur between resident non-resident entities. Also covered are offsets to current economic values provided or acquired without a quid pro quo. Specifically, the major classifications are goods and services, income, and current transfers.
1. Goods and services
- General merchandise covers most movable goods that residents export to, or import from, non residents and that, with a few specified exceptions, undergo changes in ownership (actual or imputed).
- Goods for processing covers exports (or, in the compiling economy, imports) of goods crossing the frontier for processing abroad and subsequent re-import (or, in the compiling economy, export) of the goods, which are valued on a gross basis before and after processing. The treatment of this item in the goods account is an exception to the change of ownership principle.
- Repairs on goods covers repair activity on goods provided to or received from non residents on ships, aircraft, etc. repairs are valued at the prices (fees paid or received) of the repairs and not at the gross values of the goods before and after repairs are made.
- Goods procured in ports by carriers covers all goods (such as fuels, provisions, stores, and supplies) that resident/nonresident carriers (air, shipping, etc.) procure abroad or in the compiling economy. The classification does not cover auxiliary services (towing, maintenance, etc.), which are covered under transportation.
- Non-monetary gold covers exports and imports of all gold not held as reserve assets (monetary gold) by the authorities. Non-monetary gold is treated the same as any other commodity and, when feasible, is subdivided into gold held as a store of value and other (industrial) gold.
- Transportation covers most of the services that are performed by residents for nonresidents (and vice versa) and that were included in shipment and other transportation in the fourth edition of the Manual. However, freight insurance is now included with insurance services rather than with transportation. Transportation includes freight and passenger transportation by all modes of transportation and other distributive and auxiliary services, including rentals of transportation equipment with crew.
- Travel covers goods and services—including those related to health and education—acquired from an economy by non resident travelers (including excursionists) for business and personal purposes during their visits (of less than one year) in that economy. Travel excludes international passenger services, which are included in transportation. Students and medical patients are treated as travelers, regardless of the length of stay. Certain others—military and embassy personnel and non resident workers—are not regarded as travelers. However, expenditures by non resident workers are included in travel, while those of military and embassy personnel are included in government services
- Communications services covers communications transactions between residents and nonresidents. Such services comprise postal, courier, and telecommunications services (transmission of sound, images, and other information by various modes and associated maintenance provided by/for residents for/by non residents).
- Construction services covers construction and installation project work that is, on a temporary basis, performed abroad/in the compiling economy or in Extra territorial enclaves by resident/non resident enterprises and associated personnel. Such work does not include that undertaken by a foreign affiliate of a resident enterprise or by an unincorporated site office that, if it meets certain criteria, is equivalent to a foreign affiliate.
- Insurance services covers the provision of insurance to non residents by resident insurance enterprises and vice versa. This item comprises services provided for freight insurance (on goods exported and imported), services provided for other types of direct insurance (including life and non-life), and services provided for reinsurance.
- Financial services (other than those related to insurance enterprises and pension funds) covers financial intermediation services and auxiliary services conducted between residents and nonresidents. Included are commissions and fees for letters of credit, lines of credit, financial leasing services, foreign exchange transactions, consumer and business credit services, brokerage services, underwriting services, arrangements for various forms of hedging instruments, etc. Auxiliary services include financial market operational and regulatory services, security custody services, etc.
- Computer and information services covers resident/non resident transactions related to hardware consultancy, software implementation, information services (data processing, data base, news agency), and maintenance and repair of computers and related equipment.
- Royalties and license fees covers receipts (exports) and payments (imports) of residents and non-residents for (i) the authorized use of intangible non produced, nonfinancial assets and proprietary rights—such as trademarks, copyrights, patents, processes, techniques, designs, manufacturing rights, franchises, etc. and (ii) the use, through licensing agreements, of produced originals or prototypes—such as manuscripts, films, etc.
- Other business services provided by residents to nonresidents and vice versa covers merchanting and other trade-related services; operational leasing services; and miscellaneous business, professional, and technical services.
- Personal, cultural, and recreational services covers (i) audiovisual and related services and (ii) other cultural services provided by residents to non-residents and vice versa. Included under (i) are services associated with the production of motion pictures on films or video tape, radio and television programs, and musical recordings. (Examples of these services are rentals and fees received by actors, producers, etc. for productions and for distribution rights sold to the media.) Included under (ii) are other personal, cultural, and recreational services—such as those associated with libraries, museums—and other cultural and sporting activities.
- Government services i.e. covers all services (such as expenditures of embassies and consulates) associated with government sectors or international and regional organizations and not classified under other items.
- Compensation of employees covers wages, salaries, and other benefits, in cash or in kind, and includes those of border, seasonal, and other non-resident workers (e.g., local staff of embassies).
- Investment income covers receipts and payments of income associated, respectively, with residents’ holdings of external financial assets and with residents’ liabilities to nonresidents. Investment income consists of direct investment income, portfolio investment income, and other investment income. The direct investment component is divided into income on equity (dividends, branch profits, and reinvested earnings) and income on debt (interest); portfolio investment income is divided into income on equity (dividends) and income on debt (interest); other investment income covers interest earned on other capital (loans, etc.) and, in principle, imputed income to households from net equity in life insurance reserves and in pension funds.
3. Current transfers
Current transfers are distinguished from capital transfers, which are included in the capital and financial account in concordance with the SNA treatment of transfers. Transfers are the offsets to changes, which take place between residents and nonresidents, in ownership of real resources or financial items and, whether the changes are voluntary or compulsory, do not involve a quid pro quo in economic value.
Current transfers consist of all transfers that do not involve (i) transfers of ownership of fixed assets; (ii) transfers of funds linked to, or conditional upon, acquisition or disposal of fixed assets; (iii) forgiveness, without any counterparts being received in return, of liabilities by creditors. All of these are capital transfers.
Current transfers include those of general government (e.g., current international cooperation between different governments, payments of current taxes on income and wealth, etc.), and other transfers (e.g., workers’ remittances, premiums—less service charges, and claims on non-life insurance).