Second Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2014-15 By Dr. Raghuram G. Rajan, Governor, RBI - 3rd June 2014
7. In March and April, CPI headline inflation has risen on the back of a sharp increase in food prices. Some of this price pressure will continue into May, but it is largely seasonal. Moreover, CPI inflation excluding food and fuel has been edging down. The risks to the central forecast of 8 per cent CPI inflation by January 2015 remain broadly balanced. Upside risks in the form of a sub-normal/delayed monsoon on account of possible El Nino effects, geo-political tensions and their impact on fuel prices, and uncertainties surrounding the setting of administered prices appear at this stage to be balanced by the possibility of stronger Government action on food supply and better fiscal consolidation as well as the pass through of recent exchange rate appreciation. Accordingly, at this juncture, it is appropriate to leave the policy rate unchanged, and to allow the disinflationary effects of rate increases undertaken during September 2013-January 2014 to mitigate inflationary pressures in the economy.
8. The Reserve Bank remains committed to keeping the economy on a disinflationary course, taking CPI inflation to 8 per cent by January 2015 and 6 per cent by January 2016. If the economy stays on this course, further policy tightening will not be warranted. On the other hand, if disinflation, adjusting for base effects, is faster than currently anticipated, it will provide headroom for an easing of the policy stance.
9. Contingent upon the desired inflation outcome, the April projection of real GDP growth from 4.7 per cent in 2013-14 to a range of 5 to 6 per cent in 2014-15 is retained with risks evenly balanced around the central estimate of 5.5 per cent (Chart 2). The outlook for the agricultural sector is contingent upon the timely arrival and spread of the monsoon. Easing of domestic supply bottlenecks and progress in the implementation of stalled projects should brighten the outlook for both manufacturing and services. The resumption of export growth is a positive development and as world trade gathers momentum, the prospects for exports should improve further.
10. In pursuance of the Dr. Urjit R. Patel Committee’s recommendation to move away from sector-specific refinance towards a more generalised provision of system liquidity without preferential access to any particular sector or entity, the Reserve Bank has decided to limit access to export credit refinance while compensating fully with a commensurate expansion of the market’s access to liquidity through a special term repo facility from the Reserve Bank (equivalent to 0.25 per cent of NDTL). This should improve access to liquidity from the Reserve Bank for the system as a whole without the procedural formalities relating to documentary evidence, authorisation and verification associated with the ECR. This should also improve the transmission of policy impulses across the interest rate spectrum and engender efficiency in cash/treasury management.
11. As the economy recovers, investment demand and the need for credit will pick up. To the extent that this contributes eventually to supply, it is important that banks have the room to finance it. A reduction in the required SLR will give banks more freedom to expand credit to the non-Government sector. However, the Reserve Bank is also cognisant of the significant on-going financing needs of the Government. Therefore, the SLR is reduced by 0.50 per cent of NDTL, with any further change dependent on the likely path of fiscal consolidation.
12. With a view to improving the depth and liquidity in the domestic foreign exchange market, it has been decided to allow foreign portfolio investors to participate in the domestic exchange traded currency derivatives market to the extent of their underlying exposures plus an additional US$ 10 million. Furthermore, it has also been decided to allow domestic entities similar access to the exchange traded currency derivatives market. Detailed operating guidelines will be issued separately.
13. As a prudential measure, the eligibility limit for foreign exchange remittances under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) had been reduced to US$ 75,000 last year. In view of the recent stability in the foreign exchange market, it has been decided to enhance the eligible limit to US$ 125,000 without end use restrictions except for prohibited foreign exchange transactions such as margin trading, lottery and the like. Operating guidelines will be issued separately.
14. At present, only Indian residents are allowed to take Indian currency notes up to Rs 10,000 out of the country. Non-residents visiting India are not permitted to take out any Indian currency notes while leaving the country. With a view to facilitating travel requirements of non-residents visiting India, it has been decided to allow all residents and non-residents except citizens of Pakistan and Bangladesh to take out Indian currency notes up to Rs 25,000 while leaving the country. Operating guidelines in this regard are being issued separately.
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