Monetary Policy Review: RBI Holds Repo Rate At 6.5%, Inflation Focus Continues; Fy24 GDP Forecast Unchanged at 6.5%


Monetary Policy Review: RBI Holds Repo Rate At 6.5%, Inflation Focus Continues; Fy24 GDP Forecast Unchanged at 6.5%

The Reserve Bank of India's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), as expected, left the repo rate, the rate at which the central bank lends short-term funds to banks, unchanged at 6.5 percent on October 6. "MPC voted unanimously to leave the repo rate unchanged at 6.5 percent," Governor Shaktikanta Das said while announcing MPC's decision.

The central bank also announced that it was was withdrawing its incremental cash reserve ratio (ICRR), which was introduced in August to withdraw surplus liquidity from the system in a phased manner.

Further, the MPC also decided that Standing Deposit Facility (SDF) and Marginal Standing Facility (MSF) rates are also left unchanged at 6.25 percent and 6.75 percent, respectively.

Real GDP growth: The Governor said the real GDP growth for 2023-24 is projected at 6.5%. The latest CPI inflation projection for 2023-24 is at 5.4%, the same as projected previously

On inflation: Das also "emphatically" re-iterated that MPC's inflation target is 4 percent and not 2 to 6 percent. "Our aim is to align the inflation target to a durable basis, while supporting growth."

"Global headline inflation is easing but rules above the target of many major economies. Sovereign bond yields have firmed up, US dollar has appreciated, and equity markets have corrected," Das said in the press conference, adding that India is poised to become the new growth engine of the world.

The overall tone of the bi-monthly monetary policy remained tilted towards the inflation fight. In the October MPC decision, Das said that CPI inflation forecast for 2023-24 left unchanged at 5.4 percent.

Das also mentioned that throughout the third quarter, food inflation pressure may not see sustained easing, while core CPI eased 140 basis points from its earlier peak in January.

The retail inflation fell to 6.83 percent in August as vegetable prices cooled compared to the previous month but it was still above the RBI's tolerance band of 2-6 percent.

At 6.83 percent, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation print was 61 basis points lower than July's 15-month high of 7.44 percent. It was also the 47th month in a row that it stayed above the central bank's medium-term target of 4 percent.

To counter inflation, the MPC has raised rates by 250 basis points (bps) since May 2022 but has kept the rates unchanged since the February review.

One basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.

The RBI has been fighting inflation by keeping the rates steady and liquidity tight. Inflation hurts poor households the most, as the purchasing power falls even as the income levels don't rise.

The status quo is likely to be a non-event for consumers. According to bankers, a status quo in the rate is unlikely to lead to any immediate tweak in lending and deposit rates.  Banks will wait for further cues before taking a decision.

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