On the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) at its meeting today decided to keep the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 4.0 per cent. The reverse repo rate under the LAF remains unchanged at 3.35 per cent.

The marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate also remain unchanged 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,” an RBI release said.

Giving the backdrop for MPC’s decision at a press conference today, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said, “Overall, aggregate demand is improving but slack still remains; output is still below pre-pandemic level and the recovery remains uneven and dependent upon continued policy support. Contact intensive services, which contribute about 40 per cent of economic activity in India, are still lagging. Supply side and cost push pressures are impinging upon inflation and these are expected to ameliorate with the ongoing normalisation of supply chains.

Efforts to contain cost-push pressures through a calibrated reversal of the indirect taxes on fuel could contribute to a more sustained lowering of inflation and an anchoring of inflation expectations.”

Speaking about outlook for the Indian economy, the MPC said that the inflation trajectory is set to edge down during Q3 2021-22, drawing comfort from the recent catch-up in kharif sowing and likely record production. It has projected CPI inflation at 5.3 per cent for 2021-22; 5.1 per cent in Q2, 4.5 per cent in Q3; 5.8 per cent in Q4 of 2021-22, with risks broadly balanced. CPI inflation for Q1 2022-23 is projected at 5.2 per cent.

“Domestic economic activity is gaining traction with the ebbing of the second wave. Going forward, rural demand is likely to maintain its buoyancy, given the above normal kharif sowing while rabi prospects are bright. The substantial acceleration in the pace of vaccination, the sustained lowering of new infections and the coming festival season should support a rebound in the pent-up demand for contact intensive services, strengthen the demand for non-contact intensive services, and bolster urban demand,” the MPC statement said.

“Global semiconductor shortages, elevated commodity prices and input costs, and potential global financial market volatility are key downside risks to domestic growth prospects, along with uncertainty around the future COVID-19 trajectory,” it added.

RBI has retained its projection for India’s real GDP growth at 9.5 per cent in 2021-22 consisting of 7.9 per cent in Q2; 6.8 per cent in Q3; and 6.1 per cent in Q4 of 2021-22. Real GDP growth for Q1 2022-23 is projected at 17.2 per cent.