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MUMBAI: India opened its $1 trillion government bond market to individual investors Friday as it seeks help from the public to fund its ambitious spending plans.

Asia’s third-largest economy plans to borrow 12.05 trillion rupees ($161.87 billion) via bonds this financial year, ending March 2022, as it embarks on huge investment plans to boost growth in the coronavirus-battered country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Friday the new scheme “allows the smallest investor to participate in the country’s economic progress”.

“Small investors will be assured of good returns on a secure investment and the government will get the resources it needs for infrastructure development and building a new India.”

Governments in developed economies have long allowed individuals to invest in bonds, which usually offer smaller returns than other investments but are seen as safer. India follows other emerging market countries like Brazil, the Philippines and Bangladesh in easing public access to its sovereign bond market.

Before Friday, individual investors in India could only buy government bonds through mutual funds and other indirect facilities.

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