RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das announced on Friday that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the central bank raised the repo rate, or key lending rate, by 50 basis points (bps) to a three-year high of 5.9 percent. The country is expected to have a real GDP of 7%, which has been reduced from 7.25% previously predicted. “We are awake, ever vigilant, ever striving,” the RBI Governor said during his speech, highlighting the steps taken to address global challenges and emphasising the resilience of the national economy.
“The global economy is in the eye of storm but India has withstood shocks over the last two years,” RBI governor said, adding that the inflation is hovering around 7 per cent and is expected to remain around 6 per cent in the second half of the year.
“Daunting challenges await us,” he said, referring to the Ukraine war, which began in February. “A series of measures have been implemented since April 2022 in the backdrop of geopolitical tensions, which have also hampered global supply.” “The inflation rate is expected to be 6.7%,” he said. “In the face of current conditions, the MPC must remain alert and nimble.” In the first quarter, GDP increased by 13.5% year on year, he said. “While real GDP growth in the first quarter of this year was lower than expected, it was still 13.5 percent, possibly the highest among the major global economies,” he added.
Markets opened in the red ahead of the critical statement, with the Sensex at 56,254. The Nifty 50 index of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was down 0.3% at 16,776. A Reuters poll conducted ahead of the statement found that a slim majority of economists expected a 50 basis point increase, with some expecting a smaller 35 basis point increase.
Last month, the MPC announced another 50 basis point increase in the repo rate (one basis point is one hundredth of a percentage point), bringing it to 5.4%, a level last seen in September 2019. It was the MPC’s third consecutive rate hike since its unexpected May 2022 meeting. The key committee also maintained its inflation and GDP growth projections for fiscal year 2022-23 at 6.7% and 7.2%, respectively.
According to reports, the MPC has raised the key policy rate by 190 basis points since May to cool domestic retail inflation, which has remained above the RBI’s upper tolerance limit of 6% since January.
“The inflation trajectory remains clouded with uncertainties arising from continuing geopolitical tensions and nervous global financial market sentiments. In this backdrop, MPC was of the view that persistence of high inflation, necessitates further calibrated withdrawal of monetary accommodation to restrain broadening of price pressures, anchor inflation expectations and contain the second round effects. This action will support the medium-term growth prospects of our economy,” Shaktikanta Das stressed on Friday.