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Rajan may keep rate static in his last policy tomorrow

Rajan-L

New Delhi: Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan in his last monetary policy tomorrow may keep interest rate static as retail inflation continues to be above the comfort zone, experts say.

This is going to be the last bi-monthly monetary policy to be decided by the central bank Governor as the broad-based 6-member panel may take over the job before the next review on October 4.

In conjunction with naming its 3 members on the Monetary Policy Committee, the government is also likely to name a successor to Rajan sometime this month.

The government announced last week that it would like the RBI to focus on maintaining retail inflation rate of 4 per cent for the next five years, based on which the new interest rate setting panel would take its monetary policy decisions going forward.

The move, which provides for a margin of plus or minus 2 per cent in this target thus fixing the upper tolerance level at 6 per cent till 2021, is being seen as government putting the seal on Rajan’s inflation-first model of monetary policy.

“We are expecting that there will be no change in rate because vegetable prices are on the rise… It will take a few months for the vegetable prices to come down when the kharif crops come into the market,” SBI Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya said.

Consumer Price Index based retail inflation rose by 5.77 per cent in June, the fastest pace in 22 months and it is expected that the implementation of the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) may push it up further.

However, Yes Bank Managing Director Rana Kapoor believes that macroeconomic conditions augur well for at least 50 basis point cut in interest rate by the RBI.

He said rates are coming down across geographies including the UK, which has strengthened the case for a rate cut by RBI.

“Lot of favourable developments in the economy – above average monsoon, low G-Sec rate, high forex reserve, low bond yield, twin deficit well within the range – augur well for rate cut of at least 0.5 per cent,” he said.

Rajan, criticised for following hawkish monetary policy for too long before starting to lower rates, has reduced the benchmark interest rate by 1.5 per cent since January last year, and has been persuading banks to fully transmit the benefit of the policy rate cut to customers.

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