India Holds Policy Rate Unchanged

The Reserve Bank of India left its benchmark repo rate at 7.75 percent, as policymakers waited for more evidence of last month's rate cut and indicated that the key to further easing are continuing disinflationary pressures and sustained fiscal consolidation.

The cash reserve ratio was left on hold at 4 percent of net demand and time liabilities (NDTL). Policy makers also decided to: reduce the statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) by 50 basis points to 21.5 percent since February 7th; replace the export credit refinance (ECR) facility with the provision of system level liquidity since February 7th; continue to provide liquidity under overnight repos at 0.25 percent of bank-wise-NDTL at the LAF repo rate and liquidity under 7-day and 14-day term repos of up to 0.75 per cent of NDTL of the banking system through auctions and continue with daily one-day term repos and reverse repos to smooth liquidity. Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF will remain unchanged at 6.75 percent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 8.75 percent.

Excerpts from the statement by Dr. Raghuram G. Rajan, Governor:

Retail inflation, measured by year-on-year changes in the consumer price index (CPI), edged up in December on the expected reversal of favourable base effects that had tempered upside pressures since June. A slight softening of cereal prices and a sharp seasonal fall in vegetables prices moderated the trajectory of headline inflation, despite persistent firmness in the prices of protein-rich items such as milk, meat and pulses. However, seasonal increases in vegetable prices, which typically set in around March, have to be monitored carefully. In the fuel category, prices of constituents such as electricity, coal and cooking gas remained stable in the absence of administered revisions. Consequently, the CPI registered a monthly decline for the first time since February 2014.

By and large, inflation dynamics have so far been consistent with the assessment of the balance of risks by the Reserve Bank’s bi-monthly monetary policy statements, although with some undershooting relative to the projected path of disinflation. While inflation declined faster than expected due to favourable base effects during June-November, the upturn in December turned out to be muted relative to projections. Augmenting these data with survey data on falling inflationary expectations as well as data on weak commodity prices and muted rural wage growth, the Reserve Bank projected that it would meet its objective of 6 per cent CPI inflation by January 2016. Having committed in public statements to initiate a change in the monetary policy stance as soon as incoming data permitted, the Reserve Bank cut the policy rate on January 15, 2015.

The outlook for growth has improved modestly on the back of disinflation, real income gains from decline in oil prices, easier financing conditions and some progress on stalled projects. These conditions should augur well for a reinvigoration of private consumption demand, but the overall impact on growth could be partly offset by the weaker global growth outlook and short-run fiscal drag due to likely compression in plan expenditure in order to meet consolidation targets set for the year. Accordingly, the baseline projection for growth using the old GDP base has been retained at 5.5 per cent for 2014-15. For 2015-16, projections are inherently contingent upon the outlook for the south-west monsoon and the balance of risks around the global outlook. Domestically, conditions for growth are slowly improving with easing input cost pressures, supportive monetary conditions and recent measures relating to project approvals, land acquisition, mining, and infrastructure. Accordingly, the central estimate for real GDP growth in 2015-16 is expected to rise to 6.5 per cent with risks broadly balanced at this point. The revised GDP statistics (base 2011-12) released on January 30 along with advance estimates for 2014-15 expected on February 9, 2015 will need to be carefully analysed and could result in revisions to the Reserve Bank’s growth projections for 2015-16.

India Holds Policy Rate Unchanged

RBI l Rida Husna l
2/3/2015 6:14:18 AM