First Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2014-15 By Dr. Raghuram G. Rajan, Governor, RBI - 1st April 2014
Policy Stance and Rationale
Since December 2013, the sharper than expected disinflation in vegetable prices has enabled a sizable fall in headline inflation. Looking ahead, vegetable prices have entered their seasonal trough and further softening is unlikely. Meanwhile, CPI inflation excluding food and fuel has remained flat.
There are risks to the central forecast of 8 per cent CPI inflation by January 2015 stemming from a less-than-normal monsoon due to possible el nino effects; uncertainty on the setting of minimum support prices for agricultural commodities and the setting of other administered prices, especially of fuel, fertiliser and electricity; the outlook for fiscal policy; geo-political developments and their impact on international commodity prices. There will also be a downward statistical pull on CPI inflation exerted by base effects of high inflation during June-November 2013. It is critical to look through any transient effects, including these base effects, which could temporarily soften headline inflation during 2014
The Reserve Bank’s policy stance will be firmly focussed on keeping the economy on a disinflationary glide path that is intended to hit 8 per cent CPI inflation by January 2015 and 6 per cent by January 2016. At the current juncture, it is appropriate to hold the policy rate, while allowing the rate increases undertaken during September 2013-January 2014 to work their way through the economy. Furthermore, if inflation continues along the intended glide path, further policy tightening in the near term is not anticipated at this juncture.
Contingent upon the desired inflation outcome, real GDP growth is projected to pick up from a little below 5 per cent in 2013-14 to a range of 5 to 6 per cent in 2014-15 albeit with downside risks to the central estimate of 5.5 per cent (Chart 2). Lead indicators do not point to any sustained revival in industry and services as yet, and the outlook for the agricultural sector is contingent upon the timely arrival and spread of the monsoon. Easing of domestic supply bottlenecks and progress on the implementation of stalled projects already cleared should brighten up the growth outlook, as would stronger anticipated export growth as the world economy picks up.
In pursuance of the Dr. Urjit R. Patel Committee’s recommendation to de-emphasise overnight “guaranteed-access” windows for liquidity management and progressively conduct liquidity management through term repos, the Reserve Bank has decided to further reduce access to overnight repos under the LAF while compensating fully with a commensurate expansion of the market’s access to term repos from the Reserve Bank. The primary objective is to improve the transmission of policy impulses across the interest rate spectrum. The term repo has evolved as a useful indicator of underlying liquidity conditions. It also allows market participants to hold liquidity for a longer period, thereby providing the impetus for engaging in term transactions in the market, evolving market-based benchmarks for pricing various financial products and also improving efficiency in cash/treasury management.
Liquidity conditions have tightened in March, partly on account of year-end ‘window dressing’ by banks, though an extraordinary infusion of liquidity by the Reserve Bank has mitigated the tightness. The Reserve Bank will propose measures to reduce such practices.
The second bi-monthly monetary policy statement is scheduled on Tuesday, June 3, 2014.