Reserve Bank has granted general permission to foreign companies to establish Project Offices in India, provided they have secured a contract from an Indian company to execute a project in India, and
i. the project is funded directly by inward remittance from abroad; or
ii. the project is funded by a bilateral or multilateral International Financing Agency; or
iii. the project has been cleared by an appropriate authority; or
iv. a company or entity in India awarding the contract has been granted Term Loan by a Public Financial Institution or a bank in India for the project.
However, if the above criteria are not met, the foreign entity has to approach the Reserve Bank of India, Central Office, for approval.
Setting up of Project Offices by foreign Non-Government Organisations/Non-Profit Organisations/Foreign Government Bodies/Departments, by whatever name called, are under the Government Route. Accordingly, such entities are required to apply to the Reserve Bank for prior permission to establish an office in India, whether Project Office or otherwise
(i) All new entities setting up Project Offices shall submit a report containing information, as per format provided in Annex 3 within five working days of the PO becoming functional to the Director General of Police (DGP) of the state concerned in which PO has established its office; if there is more than one office of such a foreign entity, in such cases to each of the DGP concerned of the state where it has established office in India;
(ii) The foreign company establishing a Project Office in India is to furnish report through the concerned AD branch, to the concerned Regional Office of Reserve Bank of India under whose jurisdiction the Project Office is set up, incorporating the following details.
a. Name and address of the Foreign Company,
b. Reference Number and date of letter awarding the contract referred to in clause (ii) of Regulation 5 of Notification No. FEMA 22/2000-RB dated May 3, 2000,
c. Particulars of the authority awarding the projects / contract,
d. The total amount of contract,
e. Address / e-mail address / telephone number / fax number of the Project Office,
f. Tenure of Project Office,
g. Brief details of the Project undertaken,
h. AD branch with whom the account has been opened and the foreign currency in which the account is opened,
i. An undertaking to the effect that the Project Office is eligible to avail of the General Permission under Regulation 5(ii) to RBI (in Form FNC-1) showing the reason thereof.
This Report shall be forwarded through the AD branch to the Regional Office concerned of the Reserve Bank of India within 2 months of establishment of the Project Office.
(iii) The Project Office shall also submit to the AD branch on an annual basis, a Certificate from a Chartered Accountant showing the Project Status and certifying that the accounts of the Project Office has been audited and the activities undertaken are in conformity with the General / Specific permission given by the Reserve Bank.
(iv) Additional Reporting Requirements: A copy of the report in Annex 4 shall be filed with the Director General of Police concerned on annual basis along with a copy of the annual certificate, and also with the AD concerned. [as amended vide AP (DIR) No.35 dated September 25, 2012 & as per Annexure provided ]
Other General Conditions Applicable to Branch / Liaison / Project Offices of Foreign Entities in India
(i) Without prior permission of the Reserve Bank, no person being a citizen of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran or China can establish in India, a Branch or a Liaison Office or a Project Office or any other place of business.
(ii) Entities from Nepal are allowed to establish only Liaison Offices in India.
(iii) Branch/Project Offices of a foreign entity are permitted to acquire immovable property by way of purchase for their own use and to carry out permitted/incidental activities. However, entities from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran, Bhutan or China are not allowed to acquire immovable property in India for a Branch / Project Office without prior RBI approval.
All Branch / Project Offices including Liaison Offices, have general permission to carry out permitted / incidental activities from lease property subject to lease period not exceeding five years.
(iv) Branch / Liaison / Project Offices are allowed to open non-interest bearing INR current accounts in India. Such Offices are required to approach their Authorised Dealers for opening the accounts.
(vii) Authorised Dealers can allow term deposit account for a period not exceeding 6 months in favor of a branch/office of a person resident outside India provided the bank is satisfied that the term deposit is out of temporary surplus funds and the branch / office furnishes an undertaking that the maturity proceeds of the term deposit will be utilised for their business in India within 3 months of maturity. However, such facility may not be extended to shipping/airline companies.
Opening of Foreign Currency Account
AD Category – I banks can open non-interest bearing Foreign Currency Account for Project Offices in India subject to the following:
i. The Project Office has been established in India, with the general / specific permission of Reserve Bank, having the requisite approval from the concerned Project Sanctioning Authority concerned.
ii. The contract, under which the project has been sanctioned, specifically provides for payment in foreign currency.
iii. Each Project Office can open two Foreign Currency Accounts, usually one denominated in USD and other in home currency, provided both are maintained with the same AD category–I bank.
iv. The permissible debits to the account shall be payment of project related expenditure and credits shall be foreign currency receipts from the Project Sanctioning Authority, and remittances from parent/group company abroad or bilateral / multilateral international financing agency.
v. The responsibility of ensuring that only the approved debits and credits are allowed in the Foreign Currency Account shall rest solely with the branch concerned of the AD. Further, the Accounts shall be subject to 100 per cent scrutiny by the Concurrent Auditor of the respective AD banks.
vi. The Foreign Currency accounts have to be closed at the completion of the Project.
Intermittent Remittances by Project Offices in India
(i) AD Category – I bank can permit intermittent remittances by Project Offices pending winding up / completion of the project provided they are satisfied with the bonafides of the transaction, subject to the following:
a. The Project Office submits an Auditors’ / Chartered Accountants’ Certificate to the effect that sufficient provisions have been made to meet the liabilities in India including Income Tax, etc.
b. An undertaking from the Project Office that the remittance will not, in any way, affect the completion of the Project in India and that any shortfall of funds for meeting any liability in India will be met by inward remittance from abroad.
(ii) Inter-Project transfer of funds requires prior permission of the Regional Office concerned of the Reserve Bank under whose jurisdiction the Project Office is situated.