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RBI keeps interest rates unchanged at 8 per cent


As expected, Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan on tuesday kept the key policy rate (repo) unchanged since retail inflation 

RBIMumbai: As expected, Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan on tuesday kept the key policy rate (repo) unchanged since retail inflation still remains “sticky” but introduced steps to increase liquidity and contain volatility in the money market.

The RBI, in its first bimonthly monetary policy statement, left the short-term lending rate or repo rate unchanged at 8 per cent and the cash reserve ratio static at 4 per cent. It halved the overnight call money rate to 0.25 per cent and increased the 7-day and 14-day repo limits to 0.75 per cent from 0.50 per cent.

“At the current juncture, it is appropriate to hold the policy rate, while allowing the rate increases undertaken during September 2013-January 2014 to work their way through the economy,” said Rajan, who had in previous policy announcements surprised the markets with policy rate changes.

If inflation continues along the glide path of reaching 8 per cent by January 2015 and 6 per cent by the year after, the Governor promised there won’t be any rate hikes.

On liquidity moves, Rajan said the primary objective is to improve transmission of policy impulses across the interest spectrum and improve liquidity in the system.

“The term repo has evolved as a useful indicator of underlying liquidity conditions. It also allows market participants to hold liquidity for a longer period…evolving market-based benchmarks for pricing various financial products,” he said.

On inflation, the Governor said he sees retail inflation softening in 2014 to under 6 per cent.

“Excluding food and fuel…retail inflation remained sticky around 8 per cent. This suggests that some demand pressures are still at play,” he said.

The RBI pegged 2014-15 GDP growth at a central estimate of 5.5 per cent. It said the FY14 current account deficit would be about 2 per cent of GDP.

Following are the highlights of RBI monetary policy review:

* Short-term lending (Repo) rate unchanged at 8 pc.

* Cash reserve ratio (CRR) too unchanged at 4 pc.

* No rate hike if inflation continues to trend lower.

* Economic growth for 2014-15 expected at 5.5 pc.

* CAD expected to come down to 2 pc of GDP in 2014-15.

* Retail inflation expected to be under 6 pc in 2014.

* RBI asks banks not to charge penalty for failure to maintain minimum balance in inoperative account.

* Approval of new bank licences after consulting EC.

* RBI open to banking mergers, provided competition and stability are not compromised.

* Industrial activity continues to be a drag on economy.

* RBI will strive to increase reach of financial services to everyone by using technology and new products.

* Stress on priority sector lending for greater financial access.

* Today’s was first bi-monthly monetary policy review, next one scheduled for June 3.


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