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The Saga Continues... By S. Prabhakaran, Executive Director, Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India Limited

Vision: To excel in providing export credit insurance and trade-related services.
Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India Limited (ECGC) is one of those national institutions of importance, which was set up in 1957 to lend support to the export promotion drive of the country. Export of goods and services is a complex activity and a risky operation. A number of conditions are to be fulfilled that not only relates to Indian laws but also rules and regulations of the importing country. The major risks include not only the non payment of goods and services but also the political risks, such as, internal and external war, import restrictions or circumstances beyond the control of both the importer and the exporter.

India has come a long way from the traditional exports, such as, jute, fabrics, tea, gems, spices, etc., to the export of engineering goods, handicrafts, leather, agro products, software and related services.

ECGC has been set up and owned by the Government of India for providing export credit insurance cover to India’s exporters and banks. ECGC has completed 50 golden years of providing such services. It also issues custom specific covers to the banks and exporters termed as tailor made policies. Now, ECGC is recognized as a specialised institution by the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA) operating exclusively in the field of credit insurance.

ECGC is a public sector company with a paid up capital of Rs.800 crores (Authorised capital Rs.1000 crores). It is consistently paying dividend to the government over the last few years and has paid Rs. 125 crores dividend for the financial year 2006-07.  ECGC’s financial health can be gauged from the fact that ICRA Limited, an association of Moody’s Investor services has assigned its highest rating called iAAA rating, to its claims paying ability. The rating indicates its highest claims paying ability. ECGC has five regional offices and 51 branches all over India to service exporters and banks. All the offices are connected by WAN and offer web-based services. The Head Office and 47 branches of the Corporation are ISO 9001:2000 certified.

It has tied up with 16 banks to offers its services to exporters. ECGC also procures business through other alternative business channels such as brokers.

What does ECGC do?

Provides a range of credit risk insurance covers to exporters against loss in export of goods and services.
Offers covers to banks and financial institutions to enable exporters to obtain better facilities from them.
Provides overseas investment insurance to Indian companies investing in joint ventures abroad in the form of equity and/or loans.

ECGC is a stable, dynamic and growth oriented upwardly mobile organisation. It believes in strengthening relationships and improving its delivery services to its customers. Customer relation-ship is crucial in export credit insurance. The improvement can be measured from the results of the Customer Satisfaction Survey conducted by ECGC by availing the services of AC Nielsen Research Services P Ltd. ECGC scored a rating of 8 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Federation of Indian Exporters Organisation (FIEO), the apex body of export promotion organisations of India has also recognized the admirable support played by ECGC over the years to promote India’s exports and a special award for Outstanding Support Services was given to ECGC in December 2006.

The overall performance of the corporation is assessed by the Government of India. The basis of which is Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that ECGC has been signing with the government since 1995-96. The MoU clearly defines the respective role of the PSE with the government for achieving better results. The performance of ECGC for the financial year 2005-06 was “Excellent” and earned the MoU Award for Excellent Performance, which was received by Shri A V Muralidharan, CMD from the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh on 8th March 2007. The Corporation is expecting to get “Excellent” grading under its MoU for the financial year 2006-07.

Another achievement to its credit is the support for the medium and long term sector. Government of India has set up a separate fund called ‘National Export Insurance Account’ (NEIA), which is being maintained and operated by a public trust set up jointly by the Department of Commerce and ECGC. This fund supports exports involving large value projects with unconventional credit terms that are beyond the underwriting capacity of ECGC. This fund will also enable exports to countries facing persistent economic and financial difficulties.

Opportunities and Challenges
The emerging global economic order has brought both challenges and opportunities for Indian companies. The gradual opening up of the world economy has brought with it increasing competition, more business opportunities both in the domestic sector as well as in other countries. To take advantage of these opportunities and challenges, ECGC has prepared special insurance covers, such as overseas investment scheme. Further, it has a special cover for different sectors. Consignment policies are best suited for gems and jewellery, exposure policies and turnover policies are for large value exporters, software services and IT enabled policies made for the rapidly growing IT and related sectors.

Approximately 35% of India’s exports are accounted for by the SME segment and ECGC provides cover to them with a range of policies such as, ‘Standard and Small Exporters policies’. Factoring services, is a tailor made package of services designed to securer finance, collection of receivables, credit protection and to improve exporters cash flow.

A range of export credit insurance covers, for the banks, to protect their export advances, a scheme first initiated by ECGC in the world. The scheme has been modified to suit the requirements of the banks by providing customised covers and also to ensure that the SME sector can avail the credit facilities on easier terms from the Indian banks. The scheme has been sustained by ECGC in the interest of India’s endeavour to boost exports despite losses suffered by banks while financing Indian exporters.

With ECGC, the Indian exporters have gained confidence to go further, take more risks. It also helps make it easier for exporters to obtain export finance from banks both at pre and post shipment stage. India is poised at threshold of reaching ‘higher and sustainable’ growth path and become the second largest economy in the world in a few decades. ECGC will play a major role in the next fifty years and the path from the golden jubilee to Centenary through its diamond and platinum jubilee is clearly defined.

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   RNI No. WBENG/2008/27737
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