Minutes of the Monetary Policy Committee Meeting August 5-7, 2019
The eighteenth meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), constituted under section 45ZB of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, was held during August 5-7, 2019 at the Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai. The meeting was attended by all the members – Dr. Chetan Ghate, Professor, Indian Statistical Institute; Dr. Pami Dua, Director, Delhi School of Economics; Dr. Ravindra H. Dholakia, former Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad; Dr. Michael Debabrata Patra, Executive Director (the officer of the Reserve Bank nominated by the Central Board under Section 45ZB(2)(c) of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934); Shri Bibhu Prasad Kanungo, Deputy Governor in charge of monetary policy – and was chaired by Shri Shaktikanta Das, Governor.According to Section 45ZL of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, the Reserve Bank shall publish, on the fourteenth day after every meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee, the minutes of the proceedings of the meeting which shall include the following, namely:
the resolution adopted at the meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee;
the vote of each member of the Monetary Policy Committee, ascribed to such member, on the resolution adopted in the said meeting; and
the statement of each member of the Monetary Policy Committee under sub-section (11) of section 45ZI on the resolution adopted in the said meeting.
On the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) at its meeting today decided to:
reduce the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) by 35 basis points (bps) from 5.75 per cent to 5.40 per cent with immediate effect. Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF stands revised to 5.15 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 5.65 per cent.
The MPC also decided to maintain the accommodative stance of monetary policy.
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.
In the MPC’s June resolution, real GDP growth for 2019-20 was projected at 7.0 per cent – in the range of 6.4-6.7 per cent for H1:2019-20 and 7.2-7.5 per cent for H2 – with risks evenly balanced. Various high frequency indicators suggest weakening of both domestic and external demand conditions. The Business Expectations Index of the Reserve Bank’s industrial outlook survey shows muted expansion in demand conditions in Q2, although a decline in input costs augurs well for growth. The impact of monetary policy easing since February 2019 is also expected to support economic activity, going forward. Moreover, base effects will turn favourable in H2:2019-20. Taking into consideration the above factors, real GDP growth for 2019-20 is revised downwards from 7.0 per cent in the June policy to 6.9 per cent – in the range of 5.8-6.6 per cent for H1:2019-20 and 7.3-7.5 per cent for H2 – with risks somewhat tilted to the downside; GDP growth for Q1:2020-21 is projected at 7.4 per cent.
Statement by Shri Shaktikanta Das'
- GDP growth for 2019-20 has been revised downwards from 7.0 per cent in the June policy to 6.9 per cent – in the range of 5.8-6.6 per cent for H1:2019-20 and 7.3-7.5 per cent for H2 – with some downside risks. GDP growth for Q1:2020-21 is projected at 7.4 per cent. The impact of monetary policy easing since February 2019 and favourable base effects are expected to support GDP growth, especially in the second half of the year.
- Headline CPI inflation rose to 3.2 per cent in June 2019 from 3.0 per cent in April-May. Food inflation rose by 100 bps in May-June, driven mainly by a pick-up in prices of meat & fish, pulses and vegetables. On the other hand, CPI inflation excluding food and fuel moderated for the fourth consecutive month to 4.1 per cent in June, caused by a broad-based softening across groups, particularly clothing and footwear; household goods and services; and transport and communication. This reflects subdued input cost pressures relating to both agriculture and industrial raw materials and further weakening of domestic demand conditions. Inflation in the fuel and light group also decelerated in May-June, despite the uptick in liquified petroleum gas (LPG) prices. Inflation expectations of households in the July 2019 round of the Reserve Bank’s survey moderated further by 20 basis points for the 1-year ahead horizon, though they remained unchanged for the 3-month ahead horizon. Cumulatively, inflation expectations of households have declined significantly by 180 basis points for the 3-month horizon and 190 basis points for the 1-year horizon in last five survey rounds. This suggests that inflation expectations of households are gradually getting better anchored. Overall, the inflation situation remains benign. CPI inflation has been projected at 3.1 per cent for Q2:2019-20 and 3.5-3.7 per cent for H2:2019-20, with risks evenly balanced. CPI inflation for Q1:2020-21 has been projected at 3.6 per cent.
- Liquidity in the system has been in surplus since June 2019 with the surplus absorbed under the reverse repo window of the Reserve Bank being almost `2.0 lakh crore on August 6, 2019. The past policy rate cuts have been fully transmitted to financial markets. The weighted average lending rate (WALR) on fresh rupee loans of banks has declined by 29 bps during the current easing phase so far (February-June 2019). The transmission to bank lending rates has been inadequate, though it is expected to improve in the coming weeks and months. Credit growth has slowed down somewhat in the recent period; credit to micro, small and medium enterprises, in particular, remains anaemic.
- In view of weakening of domestic growth impulses and unsettled global macroeconomic environment, there is a need to bolster dwindling domestic demand and support investment activity, even as the impact of past three rate cuts is gradually working its way to the real economy. With headline inflation projected to remain within the target over the next one-year horizon, supporting domestic growth by further reducing interest rates needs to be given the utmost priority. Given the current and evolving inflation and growth scenario at this juncture, it can no longer be a business as usual approach. The economy needs a larger push. I am, therefore, of the view that a reduction in the policy repo rate by conventional 25 bps will be inadequate. On the other hand, a 50 bps rate cut might be excessive and indicate a knee jerk reaction. A policy rate adjustment of 25 bps or multiples thereof may not always be consistent with the evolving macroeconomic situation. Hence, at times it is apposite to calibrate the size of the conventional rate adjustment. Considering these aspects, I vote for reducing the policy repo rate by 35 basis points and for continuing with the accommodative stance of monetary policy. The calibration of the size of the rate cut is expected to reinforce and quicken the impact of (i) the past cumulative rate reduction of 75 basis points; (ii) change in the stance from neutral to accommodative; and (iii) injection of large surplus liquidity in the system.