RBI keeps repo rate unchanged to control inflation, ups this year’s GDP growth forecast to 7.2%

The RBI’s MPC also decided to maintain the ‘withdrawal of accomodation’ policy stance to keep inflation moving downwards to its 4% target; MPC members voted 4-2 to keep the repo rate unchanged, with dissenters seeking a 25 bps cut

Updated - June 07, 2024 11:58 pm IST

Published - June 07, 2024 10:17 am IST - Mumbai

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das on June 7, 2024, said the Monetary Policy Committee has decided to keep the repo rate unchanged at 6.5%. File

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das on June 7, 2024, said the Monetary Policy Committee has decided to keep the repo rate unchanged at 6.5%. File | Photo Credit: ANI

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to keep the repo rate unchanged at 6.5%. The decision, taken at the MPC’s meeting on Friday, marks the eighth time in a row that the policy rate has been put on hold to keep the focus on battling high inflation.

The MPC has revised its GDP growth forecast upwards from the earlier 7% estimate to 7.2% for the financial year 2024-2025. It has also decided to remain focused on withdrawal of accommodation to ensure that inflation does not accelerate, while supporting growth.

“These decisions are in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4% within a band of +/- 2% while supporting growth,” Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das said after the meeting. 

Divided MPC

Mr. Das, along with MPC members Shashanka Bhide, Rajiv Ranjan, and Michael Debabrata Patra voted to keep the policy repo rate unchanged at 6.5% and to remain focused on the withdrawal of accommodation, while their colleagues Ashima Goyal and Jayanth R. Varma voted to reduce the policy repo rate by 25 basis points and for a change in stance to neutral. 

“There were signs of a more divided policy committee, with one additional member voting for a softening in stance as well as policy direction. The majority retained their cautious stance to guide inflation towards the 4% target on a durable basis, despite recent signs of disinflation,” said Radhika Rao, Executive Director and Senior Economist, DBS Bank, commenting on the decision.

Higher growth forecast

According to the MPC, high frequency indicators of domestic activity are showing resilience in 2024-25. The south-west monsoon is expected to be above normal, which augurs well for agriculture and rural demand, but headwinds from geopolitical tensions, volatility in international commodity prices, and geoeconomic fragmentation pose risks to the outlook. 

Taking various factors into consideration, real GDP growth for 2024-25 was projected at 7.2% as compared with the earlier projection of 7%, with the first quarter (Q1) growth estimate at 7.3%; Q2 at 7.2%; Q3 at 7.3%; and Q4 at 7.2%. The risks are evenly balanced.

Elevated food inflation

Emphasising that inflation has seen sequential moderation since February 2024, albeit in a narrow range from 5.1% in February to 4.8% in April 2024, the RBI Governor said that food inflation, however, remains elevated due to persistence of inflation pressures in vegetables, pulses, cereals, and spices. 

“Looking ahead, overlapping shocks engendered by rising incidence of adverse climate events impart considerable uncertainty to the food inflation trajectory,” he said, while announcing the MPC’s decisions. He added that volatility in crude oil prices and financial markets, along with the firming up of non-energy commodity prices, pose upside risks to inflation. 

Taking various factors into account, CPI inflation for 2024-25 is projected at 4.5%, with Q1 at 4.9%; Q2 at 3.8%; Q3 at 4.6%; and Q4 at 4.5%. The risks are evenly balanced.

Mr. Das emphasised that the path of disinflation has been interrupted by volatile and elevated food inflation due to adverse weather events. “Inflation is expected to temporarily fall below the target during Q2:2024-25 due to favourable base effect, before reversing subsequently. The MPC will remain resolute in its commitment to aligning inflation to the 4% target on a durable basis,” he said. 

The MPC reiterated the need to continue with the disinflationary stance, until a durable alignment of the headline CPI inflation with the target is achieved. 

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