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Business News/ Economy / RBI MPC Meeting October 2023. Full text of RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das' policy statement
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RBI MPC Meeting October 2023. Full text of RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das' policy statement

RBI Monetary Policy Committee unanimously decided to keep the repo rate unchanged at 6.5%, but reiterated the central bank's focus on inflation, keeping target at 4%

Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das announces the Monetary Policy, in Mumbai. (PTI)Premium
Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das announces the Monetary Policy, in Mumbai. (PTI)

RBI MPC Monetary Policy: The Reserve Bank of India's monetary policy committee (MPC) kept the repo rate unchanged at 6.50%, in a unanimous decision on Friday. However, Governor Shaktikanta Das signalled they would keep liquidity tight using bond sales to bring inflation closer to its 4% target. Unveiling the bi-monthly monetary policy review, RBI Governor Das said the domestic economy exhibits resilience on the back of strong demand.

RBI Monetary Policy LIVE updates

RBI MPC Meet: Full text of RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das' policy statement

"Governor’s Statement: October 6, 2023

Kautilya in his Arthashastra more than two thousand years ago, had said: “stability enables a state not only to share its wealth equitably but also augment it".

1These words are relevant even today. In fact, they have eternal validity. Macroeconomic stability and inclusive growth are the fundamental principles underlying a country’s progress. The policy mix that we have pursued during the recent years of multiple and unparalleled shocks has fostered macroeconomic and financial stability. The external sector also remains eminently manageable. The twin balance sheet stress that was encountered a decade ago has now been replaced by a twin balance sheet advantage with healthier balance sheets of both banks and corporates. India is poised to become the new growth engine of the world.

2. The need of the hour is to remain vigilant and not give room to complacency. Lessons from the past one and a half decades and from living through the global financial crisis and the taper tantrum tell us that risks and vulnerabilities can grow even in good times. All stakeholders in the economy, be it lenders, corporates, businesses – small and big – and even policymakers should continue to reinforce their buffers and

fundamentals in the fast changing world that we live in. So far as the Reserve Bank is concerned, we have identified high inflation as a major risk to macroeconomic stability and sustainable growth. Accordingly, our monetary policy remains resolutely focused

on aligning inflation to the 4% target on a durable basis.

Decisions and Deliberation of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)

3. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) met on 4th, 5th and 6th October 2023. After a detailed assessment of the evolving macroeconomic and financial developments and the outlook, it decided unanimously to keep the policy repo rate unchanged at 6.50 %. Consequently, the standing deposit facility (SDF) rate remains at 6.25 % and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate at 6.75 %. The MPC also decided by a majority of 5 out of 6 members to remain focused on withdrawal of accommodation to ensure that inflation progressively

aligns to the target, while supporting growth.

4. I shall now briefly set out the MPC’s rationale for these decisions on the policy rate and the stance. Headline inflation had surged in July driven by tomato and other vegetable prices. It corrected partly in August and is expected to see further easing in September on the back of moderation in these prices. A silver lining amidst all these is declining core inflation (i.e., CPI excluding food and fuel). The overall inflation

outlook, however, is clouded by uncertainties from the fall in kharif sowing for key crops like pulses and oilseeds, low reservoir levels, and volatile global food and energy prices. The MPC observed that the recurring incidence of large and overlapping food price shocks can impart generalisation and persistence to headline inflation. Economic activity, on the other hand, has remained resilient. Taking into account the evolving inflation-growth dynamics and the cumulative policy repo rate hike of 250 basis points which is still working through the economy, the MPC decided to keep the policy repo rate unchanged at 6.50 % in this meeting. The transmission of the 250 basis points (bps) increase in the policy repo rate to bank lending and deposit rates is still incomplete and hence the MPC decided to remain focused on withdrawal of accommodation. The MPC remains highly alert and prepared to undertake timely policy measures, as may be necessary, in order to align inflation to the target and anchor inflation expectations.

Assessment of Growth and Inflation

Global Growth

5. Let me turn to a detailed assessment of the growth and inflation dynamics, starting with the external environment. The global economy is slowing under the impact of tight financial conditions, protracted geopolitical tensions and increasing geoeconomic fragmentation. Global trade is contracting.

Headline inflation is easing but rules above the target in major economies. While major central banks are signalling a peaking of their rate hike cycle, there are indications that the tight monetary policy stance could persist for longer than anticipated earlier. Sovereign bond yields

have firmed up, the US dollar has appreciated, and global equity markets have corrected.

Domestic Growth

6. In contrast to global trends, domestic economic activity exhibits resilience on the back of strong domestic demand.4

7. The momentum in agricultural activity in Q2:2023-24 has been sustained, although the monsoon has been uneven.5 The acreage under kharif crops as on September 29, 2023 was 0.2 % above last year’s level.

8. The industrial sector extended recovery in Q2

Manufacturing sector gained ground in July-August 2023, supported by key sectors such as pharmaceuticals, basic metals, cement, motor vehicles, and food products and beverages. The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for manufacturing remained robust in September.

9. Services sector activity is maintaining buoyancy as indicated by healthy expansion in high frequency indicators in August-September.

PMI Services exhibited strong expansion in September. Construction activity continues to be strong.

10. Investment activity maintained its momentum with good support from government capex. Private sector capex is gaining ground as suggested by expansion in production and imports of capital goods and new projects sanctioned by banks.9

Capacity utilisation (CU) in the manufacturing sector, on a seasonally adjusted basis, continued to trend up, which augurs well for investment activity. The total flow of resources to the commercial sector from banks and other sources taken together at 10.6 lakh crore during the current financial year so far is higher than that of last year ( 10.4 lakh crore). Merchandise exports and non-oil non-gold imports, however,

contracted though at a moderated pace in August. Services exports expanded at a healthy pace.

11. On the demand front, steady expansion is seen in urban consumption while rural demand is showing signs of revival.11 Looking ahead, domestic demand conditions are likely to benefit from sustained buoyancy in services, consumer and business optimism, government’s continued thrust on capex, healthy balance sheets of banks and corporates, and supply chain normalisation. Headwinds from geopolitical

tensions and geoeconomic fragmentation, volatility in global financial markets, global economic slowdown, and uneven monsoon, however, pose risks to the outlook. Taking all these factors into consideration, real GDP growth for 2023-24 is projected at 6.5 % with Q2 at 6.5 %; Q3 at 6.0 %; and Q4 at 5.7 %. The risks are evenly balanced. Real GDP growth for Q1:2024-25 is projected at 6.6 %.

Inflation

12. The heightened inflation levels in July and August at 7.4 % and 6.8% respectively, were largely driven by food price pressures. Vegetables, with a weight of around 6 % in the CPI basket, contributed to about one third of CPI headline inflation in July and to around one fourth of overall inflation in August.

Sustained inflationary pressures in cereals, pulses, and spices added to the overall food inflation

13. On the positive side, core inflation softened to 4.9 % during July-August 2023

It has eased by around 140 basis points from its recent peak in January 2023. Further disinflation of the core component is critical for price stability. As evident from our survey, there is further progress on anchoring of inflation expectations which entered single digit zone for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.

14. While near-term inflation is expected to soften on the back of vegetable price correction, especially in tomatoes, and the reduction in LPG prices, the future trajectory will be conditioned by a number of factors. For kharif crops, the area sown under pulses is below the level a year ago. Kharif onion production needs to be watched closely. Demand supply mismatches in spices are likely to keep these prices at elevated levels. The inflation trajectory will also be shaped by El Niño conditions and global food and energy prices. Together with global financial market volatility, these factors pose risks to the outlook. Taking into account these factors, CPI inflation is projected at 5.4 % for 2023-24, with Q2 at 6.4 %, Q3 at 5.6 % and Q4 at 5.2 %. The risks are evenly balanced. CPI inflation for Q1:2024-25 is projected at 5.2 %.

What do these Inflation and Growth Conditions mean for Monetary Policy?

15. Over the last one and half years, monetary policy actions broadly included compression of excess liquidity in the system, increase in policy repo rate by 250 basis points and change in policy stance to withdrawal of accommodation to keep inflation expectations anchored and break the stickiness of core inflation. Complementing these measures were proactive supply side interventions by the Government to improve domestic availability of key food items and reduce input costs. Consequently, headline inflation moderated to 4.6 % in Q1:2023-24 as compared to 7.3 % in Q1:2022-23. A significant easing of inflation pressures from its exceptionally high level in July and August is expected to materialise in September as the impact of fleeting food price shocks wane. Further, underlying inflation pressures16 are moderating while the impact of past monetary policy actions is still unfolding. Even so, indications are that throughout much of Q3:2023-24, food inflation pressures may not see a sustained easing. External factors like energy prices and financial market conditions continue to be volatile. All these call for careful monitoring of incoming data and the outlook to clearly delineate the durable components of price shocks from its transitory elements. Monetary policy has to be in absolute readiness to take appropriate and timely action to prevent any spillovers from

food and fuel price shocks to underlying inflation trends and risks to anchoring of inflation expectations. These are non-negotiable necessities.

Liquidity and Financial Market Conditions

16. As I have reiterated several times in my previous policy statements, excessive liquidity17 can pose risks to both price and financial stability. To ensure that liquidity conditions evolve in sync with the monetary policy stance, the Reserve Bank – as a temporary measure – had imposed an incremental cash reserve ratio (I-CRR) of 10 % which impounded about 1.1 lakh crore from the banking system. The I-CRR was reviewed on September 8 and is being discontinued in a phased manner, ending October 7, 2023.

17. Moderation in excess liquidity conditions as a result of the combined impact of I-CRR and advance tax outflows in September has resulted in greater recourse to the marginal standing facility (MSF) by banks.

18 Elevated levels of MSF borrowings amidst substantial funds parked under the standing deposit facility (SDF)19 is symptomatic of skewed liquidity distribution in the banking system. This got reflected in the firming up of the weighted average call rate (WACR) – the operating target of monetary policy. Despite such hardening at the short-end of the term structure, the average term spread in the G-sec market (10-year minus 91-day Treasury Bills) remained at around 40 basis points in August-September suggesting stable financial conditions. In recent months, banks have preferred to place funds under the overnight SDF instead of offering them in the main 14-day variable rate reverse repo (VRRR) operations. It is imperative that banks assess their actual liquidity requirements over the reserve maintenance cycle and bid accordingly in the auctions under main 14-day VRRR operations. It is desirable that banks having surplus funds explore lending opportunities in the inter-bank call market rather than passively parking funds in the SDF at relatively less attractive rates. Greater volume of call money transactions would not only help in deepening the inter-bank money market but also lower the recourse of deficit banks to the MSF.

19. The release of the remaining impounded I-CRR funds tomorrow along with pickup in government spending are expected to ease liquidity conditions. Festival time increase in currency demand may, of course, act as a counterbalancing factor. It is a turning pitch and we will play our shots carefully. Going forward, while remaining nimble, we may have to consider OMO-sales (Open Market Operation sales) to manage liquidity, consistent with the stance of monetary policy. The timing and quantum of such operations will depend on the evolving liquidity conditions.

Financial Stability

20. The Indian banking system continues to be resilient, backed by improved asset quality, stable credit growth and robust earnings growth.21 The credit growth is broadbased and backed by the strong fundamentals of financial institutions. The financial indicators of non-banking financial companies are also in line with that of the banking system as per the latest available data for June 2023. Certain components of personal loans are, however, recording very high growth. These are being closely monitored by the Reserve Bank for any signs of incipient stress. Banks and NBFCs would be well advised to strengthen their internal surveillance mechanisms, address the build-up of

risks, if any, and institute suitable safeguards in their own interest. The need of the hour is robust risk management and stronger underwriting standards.

21. The global financial landscape is rapidly changing and potential stress may emerge from unanticipated corners. The Reserve Bank is closely monitoring the evolving situation and will act proactively to maintain financial stability.

External Sector

22. India’s merchandise exports and imports have remained in the contractionary zone so far during 2023-24, although at a decelerated pace during July and August. Services exports grew at a healthy pace in Q1:2023-24 and remained strong during July and August 2023 driven by software and business services.22 Inward remittances have risen by 5.8 % (y-o-y). The current account deficit (CAD) for Q1:2023-24

declined to 1.1 % of GDP from a year ago. There was an accretion of US$ 24.4 billion to foreign exchange reserves on balance of payments (BOP) basis during Q1:2023-24.

23. On external financing, foreign portfolio investment (FPI) flows have seen a significant turnaround in 2023-24 with net FPI inflows at US$ 20.3 billion up to September 2023 as against net outflows in the preceding two years.24 Net foreign direct investment (FDI), on the other hand, moderated to US$ 5.8 billion in April-July 2023 from US$ 17.3 billion a year ago. The inflows under external commercial borrowings (ECBs) witnessed a turnaround, with net inflows of US$ 4.5 billion during April-August 2023 as against net outflows of US$ 3.2 billion a year ago. The number and total amount of ECB agreements grew markedly during April-August 2023 with about 60 % of the total amount being raised for capital expenditure. External vulnerability indicators25 also indicate lower vulnerability in comparison with EME peers. India’s foreign exchange reserves stood at US$ 586.9 billion as on September 29, 2023. We remain confident of meeting our external financing requirements comfortably.

Prudential Framework for Income Recognition, Asset Classification and Provisioning pertaining to Advances - Projects Under Implementation

25. With a view to strengthen the extant regulatory framework governing project finance and to harmonise the instructions across all regulated entities, the extant prudential norms for projects under implementation have been reviewed. A comprehensive regulatory framework applicable for all regulated entities is now proposed to be issued. Detailed draft guidelines will be released for public comments.

Credit Concentration Norms – Credit Risk Transfer

26. At present, under the Large Exposures Framework, NBFCs in the Upper Layer are permitted to use Credit Risk Mitigation (CRM) instruments for reducing their exposures to a counterparty. With a view to harmonise the credit concentration norms among NBFCs, it has been decided to also permit NBFCs in the Middle and Base Layers to use CRM instruments for reducing their counterparty exposure under the

credit concentration norms.

Gold Loan – Bullet Repayment Scheme – UCBs

27. It has been decided to increase the existing limit for Gold Loans under the Bullet Repayment scheme from 2 lakh to 4 lakh in respect of Urban Co-operative Banks (UCBs) who have met the overall target and sub-targets under the Priority Sector Lending (PSL) as on March 31, 2023. This measure is in pursuance of our earlier announcement that suitable incentives shall be provided to UCBs that have met the

prescribed PSL targets as on March 31, 2023.

Framework for Recognition of SROs for Regulated Entities (REs) of Reserve Bank

28. Self-Regulatory Organisations (SROs) can play an important role in strengthening compliance culture among their members and also provide a consultative platform with the Reserve Bank for policy making. Therefore, it has been decided to issue a draft omnibus framework for recognising SROs for various categories of Regulated Entities (REs) of the Reserve Bank for stakeholder comments. Additional sector specific conditions may also be prescribed at the time of calling for applications.

Payments Infrastructure Development Fund – Extension of Scheme and Inclusion of PM Vishwakarma Scheme Beneficiaries

29. Since its launch in January 2021, the Payments Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) Scheme has enabled over 2.66 crore new payment touch points across the country. It has been decided to extend the scheme by two years, i.e., up to December 31, 2025. The coverage of PIDF scheme is also being expanded (i) to include the beneficiaries of PM Vishwakarma Scheme; and (ii) to deploy emerging modes of payment acceptance, such as soundbox and Aadhaar-enabled biometric payment acceptance devices. These measures will further accelerate the Reserve

Bank’s efforts to promote digital payments at the grass root level.

Introduction of New Channels for Card-on-File Tokenisation (CoFT)

30. Given the growing acceptance and benefits of tokenisation of card data, it is now proposed to introduce Card-on-File Tokenisation (CoFT) creation facilities directly at the issuer bank level. This measure will enhance convenience for cardholders to get tokens created and linked to their existing accounts with various e-commerce applications. Master Direction on Internal Ombudsman Mechanism in Regulated Entities

31. At present, the Internal Ombudsman (IO) framework in regulated entities comprises of separate guidelines for select Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs), Non-Bank issuers of Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs), NBFCs; and all Credit

Information Companies (CICs). These guidelines have similar design features but vary in certain operational aspects. It has been decided to effect certain changes and also consolidate and harmonise the IO guidelines into a single master direction. This will

further strengthen the customer grievance redress system of the regulated entities.

Conclusion

32. The Indian economy is forging ahead in a challenging global environment, drawing strength from its underlying macroeconomic fundamentals and buffers. While growth remains on track, the declining trend in inflation was interrupted in July-August 2023 due to price shocks in certain food items. Volatile energy and food prices in the wake of lingering geopolitical tensions and adverse weather conditions render uncertainty to the inflation outlook. We remain vigilant of the evolving inflation dynamics. I would like to emphatically reiterate that our inflation target is 4 % and not 2 to 6 %. Our aim is to align inflation to the target on a durable basis, while supporting growth. Our commitment to ensure financial stability reinforces our emphasis on price stability and anchoring of inflation expectations. This would keep inflation risk premium low and improve our competitiveness, productivity and growth potential. As we continue our journey ahead, we take inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi’s profound words, “If we keep that as our goal, we shall never despond, we

shall never weaken; we shall ever go forward…".

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Published: 06 Oct 2023, 11:14 AM IST
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