Treasury Bills-An Overview

CMA. CS. Sanjay Gupta ("PROUD TO BE AN INDIAN")   (114215 Points)

10 August 2010  
 Treasury Bills  

Treasury Bills are money market instruments to finance the short term requirements of the Government of India. These are discounted securities and thus are issued at a discount to face value. The return to the investor is the difference between the maturity value and issue price.


Types Of Treasury Bills There are different types of Treasury bills based on the maturity period and utility of the issuance like, ad-hoc Treasury bills, 3 months, 6 months and 12months Treasury bills etc. In India, at present, the Treasury Bills are issued for the following tenors 91-days, 182-days and 364-days Treasury bills.


Benefits Of Investment In Treasury Bills

No tax deducted at source
Zero default risk being sovereign paper
Highly liquid money market instrument
Better returns especially in the short term
Simplified settlement
High degree of tradeability and active secondary market facilitates meeting unplanned fund requirements.




The treasury bills are issued in the form of promissory note in physical form or by credit to Subsidiary General Ledger (SGL) account or Gilt account in dematerialised form.

Minimum Amount Of Bids Bids for treasury bills are to be made for a minimum amount of Rs 25000/- only and in multiples thereof.


All entities registered in India like banks, financial institutions, Primary Dealers, firms, companies, corporate bodies, partnership firms, institutions, mutual funds, Foreign Institutional Investors, State Governments, Provident Funds, trusts, research organisations, Nepal Rashtra bank and even individuals are eligible to bid and purchase Treasury bills.


The treasury bills are repaid at par on the expiry of their tenor at the office of the Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai.


All the treasury Bills are highly liquid instruments available both in the primary and secondary market.

   Day Count

For treasury bills the day count is taken as 365 days for a year.

   Yield Calculation

The yield of a Treasury Bill is calculated as per the following formula:

Y =
Wherein  Y = discounted yield
  P= Price
  D= Days to maturity


A cooperative bank wishes to buy 91 Days Treasury Bill Maturing on Dec. 6, 2002 on Oct. 12, 2002. The rate quoted by seller is Rs. 99.1489 per Rs. 100 face values. The YTM can be calculated as following:

The days to maturity of Treasury bill are 55 (October – 20 days, November – 30 days and December – 5 days)

YTM = (100-99.1489) x 365 x 100/(99.1489*55) = 5.70%

Similarly if the YTM is quoted by the seller price can be calculated by inputting the price in above formula.


Primary Market

n the primary market, treasury bills are issued by auction technique.


Treasury Bill Day of auction Day of payment
91 day Every Wednesday Following Friday
182 day Wednesday preceding thenon-Reporting Friday Following Friday
364 day Wednesday preceding the reporting Friday Following Friday

   Salient Features Of The Auction Technique

The auction of treasury bills is done only at Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai.
Bids are submitted in terms of price per Rs 100. For example, a bid for 91-day Treasury bill auction could be for Rs 97.50.
Auction committee of Reserve Bank of India decides the cut-off price and results are announced on the same day.
Bids above the cut-off price receive full allotment; bids at cut-off price may receive full or partial allotment and bids below the cut-off price are rejected.

   Types Of Auctions

There are two types of auction for treasury bills:

Multiple Price Based or French Auction: Under this method, all bids equal to or above the cut-off price are accepted. However, the bidder has to obtain the treasury bills at the price quoted by him.
Uniform Price Based or Dutch auction: Under this system, all the bids equal to or above the cut-off price are accepted at the cut- off level. However, unlike the Multiple Price based method, the bidder obtains the treasury bills at the cut-off price and not the price quoted by him.


Secondary Market & Palyers

The major participants in the secondary market are scheduled banks, financial Institutions, Primary dealers, mutual funds, insurance companies and corporate treasuries. Other entities like cooperative and regional rural banks, educational and religious trusts etc. have also begun investing their short term funds in treasury bills.


Market related yields
Transparency in operations as the transactions would be put through Reserve Bank of India’s SGL or Client’s Gilt account only
Two way quotes offered by primary dealers for purchase and sale of treasury bills.
Certainty in terms of availability, entry & exit


Treasury Bills - An Effective Cash Management Product

Treasury Bills are very useful instruments to deploy short term surpluses depending upon the availability and requirement. Even funds which are kept in current accounts can be deployed in treasury bills to maximise returns Banks do not pay any interest on fixed deposits of less than 15 days,or balances maintained in current accounts, whereas treasury bills can be purchased for any number of days depending on the requirements. This helps in deployment of idle funds for very short periods as well. Further, since every week there is a treasury bills auction, one can purchase treasury bills of different maturities as per requirements so as to match with the respective outflow of funds. At times when the liquidity in the economy is tight, the returns on treasury bills are much higher as compared to bank deposits even for longer term. Besides, better yields and availability for very short tenors, another important advantage of treasury bills over bank deposits is that the surplus cash can be invested depending upon the staggered requirements.

   Example :

Suppose party A has a surplus cash of Rs 200 crore to be deployed in a project. However, it does not require the funds at one go but requires them at different points of time as detailed below:

Funds Available as on 1.1.2000 Rs. 200 crore

Deployment in a project Rs. 200 crore

As per the requirements

6.1.2000   Rs.  50 crore
13.1.2000    Rs.  20 crore
02.2.2000    Rs.  30 crore
08.2.2000    Rs.  100 crore

Out of the above funds and the requirement schedule, the party has following two options for effective cash management of funds:

   Option I

   Invest the cash not required within 15 days in bank deposits

The party can invest a total of Rs 130 crore only, since the balance Rs 70 crores is required within the first 15 days. Assuming a rate of return of 6% paid on bank deposits for a period of 31 to 45 days, the interest earned by the company works out to Rs 76 lacs approximately.

   Option II

   Invest in Treasury Bills of various maturities depending on the funds requirements

The party can invest the entire Rs 200 crore in treasury bills as treasury bills of even less than 15 days maturity are also available. The return to the party by this deal works out to around Rs 125 lacs, assuming returns on Treasury Bills in the range of 8% to 9% for the above periods.

   Portfolio Management Strategies

Strategies for managing a portfolio can broadly be classified as active or passive strategies.

Buy And Hold A buy and hold strategy can be described as a passive strategy since the Treasury bills once purchased, would be held till its maturity. The salient features of this strategy are:

Return is fixed or locked in at the time of investment itself.
The exposure to price variations due to secondary market fluctuations is eliminated.
There is no risk of default on maturity.

   Buy And Trade

This strategy can also be described as an active market strategy. The returns on this strategy are higher than the buy and hold strategy as the yield can be optimised by actively trading the treasury bills in the secondary market before maturity.