RBI keeps repo rate unchanged at 4%, says ongoing domestic recovery still incomplete
Mumbai, February 10, 2022
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today kept its key policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 4.0 per cent, with its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) stating that the ongoing domestic recovery is still incomplete and needs continued policy support.
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, at the end of a three-day meeting, 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," the RBI said in its Monetary Policy Statement, 2021-22, on the basis of the resolution of the MPC.
The MPC noted that, since the December 2021 MPC meeting, Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation has moved along the expected trajectory.
"Going forward, vegetables prices are expected to ease further on fresh winter crop arrivals. The softening in pulses and edible oil prices is likely to continue in response to strong supply-side interventions by the Government and increase in domestic production. Prospects of a good Rabi harvest add to the optimism on the food price front. Adverse base effect, however, is likely to prevent a substantial easing of food inflation in January.
"The outlook for crude oil prices is rendered uncertain by geopolitical developments even as supply conditions are expected to turn more favourable during 2022.
"While cost-push pressures on core inflation may continue in the near term, the Reserve Bank surveys point to some softening in the pace of increase in selling prices by the manufacturing and services firms going forward, reflecting subdued pass-through," the statement said.
On balance, the central bank retained the inflation projection for 2021-22 at 5.3 per cent, with Q4 at 5.7 per cent.
On the assumption of a normal monsoon in 2022, CPI inflation for 2022-23 is projected at 4.5 per cent with Q1:2022-23 at 4.9 per cent; Q2 at 5.0 per cent; Q3 at 4.0 per cent; and Q4:2022-23 at 4.2 per cent, with risks broadly balanced.
The statement said recovery in domestic economic activity is yet to be broad-based, as private consumption and contact-intensive services remain below pre-pandemic levels.
"Going forward, the outlook for the Rabi crop bodes well for agriculture and rural demand. The impact of the ongoing third wave of the pandemic on the recovery is likely to be limited relative to the earlier waves, improving the outlook for contact-intensive services and urban demand. The announcements in the Union Budget 2022-23 on boosting public infrastructure through enhanced capital expenditure are expected to augment growth and crowd in private investment through large multiplier effects.
"The pick-up in non-food bank credit, supportive monetary and liquidity conditions, sustained buoyancy in merchandise exports, improving capacity utilisation and stable business outlook augur well for aggregate demand. Global financial market volatility, elevated international commodity prices, especially crude oil, and continuing global supply-side disruptions pose downside risks to the outlook," it said.
Taking all these factors into consideration, the RBI projected the real GDP growth for 2022-23 at 7.8 per cent with Q1:2022-23 at 17.2 per cent; Q2 at 7.0 per cent; Q3 at 4.3 per cent; and Q4:2022-23 at 4.5 per cent.
"The MPC notes that inflation is likely to moderate in H1:2022-23 and move closer to the target rate thereafter, providing room to remain accommodative. Timely and apposite supply side measures from the Government have substantially helped contain inflationary pressures. The potential pick up of input costs is a contingent risk, especially if international crude oil prices remain elevated.
"The pace of the domestic recovery is catching up with pre-pandemic trends, but private consumption is still lagging. COVID-19 continues to impart some uncertainty to the future outlook. Measures announced in the Union Budget 2022-23 should boost aggregate demand. The global macroeconomic environment is, however, characterised by deceleration in global demand in 2022, with increasing headwinds from financial market volatility induced by monetary policy normalisation in the systemic advanced economies (AEs) and inflationary pressures from persisting supply chain disruptions.
"Accordingly, the MPC judges that the ongoing domestic recovery is still incomplete and needs continued policy support. It is in this context that the MPC has decided to keep the policy repo rate unchanged at 4 per cent and to continue with an 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 statement said.
All members of the MPC – Dr. Shashanka Bhide, Dr. Ashima Goyal, Prof. Jayanth R. Varma, Dr. Mridul K. Saggar, Dr. Michael Debabrata Patra and RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das – unanimously voted to keep the policy repo rate unchanged at 4.0 per cent.
All members except Prof. Varma 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. Prof. Varma expressed reservations on this part of the resolution, the statement added.
The minutes of the MPC’s meeting will be published on February 24, 2022. The next meeting of the MPC is scheduled during April 6-8, 2022.