RBI to maintain status quo on all interests, announces Governor Das

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) at its meeting today, June 4, 2021, decided to keep the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 4.0 per cent, on the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation. Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF remains unchanged at 3.35 per cent and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 4.25 per cent.

The MPC also decided to continue with the accommodative stance as long as necessary to revive and sustain growth on a durable basis and continue to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, while ensuring that inflation remains within the target going forward. These decisions are in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent while supporting growth.

All members of the MPC unanimously voted to keep the policy repo rate unchanged at 4.0 per cent. Furthermore, all members of the MPC unanimously voted to continue with the accommodative stance as long as necessary to revive and sustain growth on a durable basis and continue to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, while ensuring that inflation remains within the target going forward.

The MPC notes that the second wave of COVID-19 has altered the near-term outlook, necessitating urgent policy interventions, active monitoring and further timely measures to prevent the emergence of supply chain bottlenecks and the build-up of retail margins.

Turning to the domestic economy, the RBI stated that provisional estimates of national income released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) on May 31, 2021, placed India’s real gross domestic product (GDP) contraction at 7.3 per cent for 2020-21, with GDP growth in Q4 at 1.6 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y). On June 1, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast a normal south-west monsoon, with rainfall at 101 per cent of the long period average (LPA). This augurs well for agriculture. With the rise in infections in rural areas, however, indicators of rural demand – tractor sales and two-wheeler sales – posted sequential declines during April.

Industrial production registered a broad-based improvement in March 2021. While mining and electricity output surpassed March 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels, manufacturing did not catch up. The output of core industries registered double-digit y-o-y growth in April 2021, propelled by a weak base. Although GST collections were at their highest during April 2021, there are indications of moderation in May as reflected in lower E-way bills generation.

Headline inflation registered a moderation to 4.3 per cent in April from 5.5 per cent in March, largely on favourable base effects. Going forward, the inflation trajectory is likely to be shaped by uncertainties impinging on the upside and the downside. The rising trajectory of international commodity prices, especially of crude, together with logistics costs, pose upside risks to the inflation outlook. Excise duties, cess and taxes imposed by the Centre and States need to be adjusted in a coordinated manner to contain input cost pressures emanating from petrol and diesel prices. A normal southwest monsoon along with comfortable buffer stocks should help to keep cereal price pressures in check.

Recent supply-side interventions are expected to ameliorate the tightness in the pulses market. Further supply-side measures are needed to soften pressures on pulses and edible oil prices. Taking into consideration all these factors, CPI inflation is projected at 5.1 per cent during 2021-22: 5.2 per cent in Q1; 5.4 per cent in Q2; 4.7 per cent in Q3; and 5.3 per cent in Q4:2021-22; with risks broadly balanced.

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