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RBI Panel Concerned About Rising Inflation, Show Minutes

The minutes released on Wednesday showed widespread concerns among the six MPC members about inflation, which accelerated to a 17-month high of 5.21% in December from a year earlier.

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RBI Panel Concerned About Rising Inflation, Show Minutes

RBI Executive Director Michael Patra was the sole member to vote for a 25 bps increase.

Mumbai: Minutes from a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) meeting on February 6-7 showed monetary policy committee (MPC) members expressed concern about accelerating inflation, although that was tempered by uncertainty about the strength of an economic recovery.

At the meeting, the MPC voted 5-1 to keep the policy rate on hold at 6.0 per cent and to retain a "neutral" monetary policy stance. RBI Executive Director Michael Patra was the sole member to vote for a 25 bps increase.

The minutes released on Wednesday showed widespread concerns among the six MPC members about inflation, which accelerated to a 17-month high of 5.21 per cent in December from a year earlier, driven higher by food and energy.

Although data after the RBI meeting showed inflation easing to 5.07 per cent in January, that remains well above the central bank's 4 per cent target.

The MPC members expressed concern about continued inflationary risks, citing factors including high food and global crude prices and the government's decision to increase spending for the year starting in April to support a struggling agricultural sector.

But most also appeared mindful of wanting to see a stronger economic recovery, despite promising signs. The government has projected growth could accelerate to 7 to 7.5 per cent in 2018/19 after expanding at its slowest in three years. India will next report growth data on February 28.

"Although inflation risks have increased in recent months, incoming data should provide greater clarity about the persistence of inflationary pressures," RBI Governor Urjit Patel was quoted as saying.

"The economic recovery is also at a nascent stage and calls for a cautious approach at this juncture."

Nonetheless, worries the RBI could soon move to raise rates are likely to persist. The benchmark 10-year bond yield has risen 127 basis points since the central bank last cut its repo rate by 25 bps on August 2.

RBI's Patra, after voting for a hike, said inflation would accelerate "well above" the central bank's target until the middle of the year.

"A series of rate increases may be warranted to remove excessive accommodation. The time to begin is upon us," he said.

RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya, who looks after monetary policy, voted to keep rates on hold, calling an economic recovery "nascent and worthy of some support in the short run".

But he warned he would consider changing the RBI's stance should inflation accelerate.

"Then a change in stance from 'neutral' to 'withdrawal of accommodation' might have to be considered," he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2018
© Thomson Reuters 2018


(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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