2016-17 Resolution of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)
On the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation at its meeting today, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to:
keep the policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) unchanged at 6.25 per cent.
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF remains unchanged at 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.75 per cent.
The decision of the MPC is consistent with a neutral stance of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving consumer price index (CPI) inflation at 5 per cent by Q4 of 2016-17 and the medium-term target of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent, while supporting growth. The main considerations underlying the decision are set out in the statement below.
2. Global growth is projected to pick up modestly in 2017, after slowing down in the year gone by. Advanced economies (AEs) are expected to build upon the slow gathering of momentum that started in the second half of 2016, led by the US and Japan. However, uncertainty surrounds the direction of US macroeconomic policies with potential global spillovers. Growth prospects for emerging market economies (EMEs) are also expected to improve moderately, with recessionary conditions ebbing in Russia and Brazil, and China stabilising on policy stimulus. Inflation is edging up on the back of rising energy prices and a mild firming up of demand. However, global trade remains subdued due to an increasing tendency towards protectionist policies and heightened political tensions. Furthermore, financial conditions are likely to tighten as central banks in AEs normalise exceptional accommodation in monetary policy.
3. International financial markets turned volatile from mid-January on concerns regarding the ‘Brexit’ roadmap and materialisation of expectations about economic policies of the new US administration. Within the rising profile of international commodity prices, crude oil prices firmed up with the OPEC’s agreement to curtail production. Prices of base metals have also increased on expectations of fiscal stimulus in the US, strong infrastructure spending in China, and supply reductions. Geopolitical concerns have also hardened commodity prices. More recently, the appetite for risk has returned in AEs, buoying equity markets and hardening bond yields as a response to the growing likelihood of further increases in the Federal Funds rate during the year. Coupled with expectations of fiscal expansion in the US, this has propelled the US dollar to a multi-year high.
4. Industrial output measured by the index of industrial production (IIP) finally shrugged off the debilitating drag from insulated rubber cables from November and was also pushed up by a favourable base effect. In December, the output of core industries accelerated on a year-on-year as well as on a sequentially seasonally adjusted basis. The drivers of the upturn were steel production and petroleum refinery throughput, the former, inter alia, supported by import tariff safeguards and the latter buoyed by external demand. The acceleration in coal production and thermal electricity generation since November after three consecutive months of contraction augur well for the outlook for power. Reflecting these developments, the manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) returned to expansion mode in January on the back of growth of new orders and output, and the future output index has risen strongly. On the other hand, the 76th round of the Reserve Bank’s industrial outlook survey suggests that financing conditions facing the manufacturing sector have worsened in Q3 of 2016-17 and are expected to remain tight in Q4. This is corroborated by the sharp slowdown in bank credit to industry and continuing sluggishness in the investment climate in some sectors.
5.Marking the fifth consecutive month of softening, retail inflation measured by the headline consumer price index (CPI) turned down sharper than expected in December and reached its lowest reading since November 2014. This outcome was driven by deflation in the prices of vegetables and pulses.
The Committee believes that the environment for timely transmission of policy rates to banks lending rates will be considerably improved if (i) the banking sector’s non-performing assets (NPAs) are resolved more quickly and efficiently; (ii) recapitalisation of the banking sector is hastened; and, (iii) the formula for adjustments in the interest rates on small savings schemes to changes in yields on government securities of corresponding maturity is fully implemented.
6. Six members voted in favour of the monetary policy decision. The minutes of the MPC’s meeting will be published by February 22, 2017.
7. The next meeting of the MPC is scheduled on April 5 and 6, 2017.