Rating agencies said that the Reserve Bank is on for a long pause in rates, following the policy announcement in which the central bank marked out concerns on inflation going ahead. “We expect the repo rate to remain unchanged over the next six months unless significant upside risks to the MPC’s inflation forecast materialise,” Crisil said in a statement. The leading agency termed the policy as one with a “balanced tone” and treading a “cautious” path. Its rival India Ratings also said that it expects a long pause from the RBI and there will be no rate actions till March 2019.
“The MPC has adopted a wait and watch policy so far as growth-inflation dynamics are concerned. The policy does not flag off immediate concerns to inflation trajectory and remains focused on allowing growth to gather momentum,” it said. The agency also warned that should a hike in lending rates happen, there can be a high quantum of debt which can slip into non performing assets. “A rise in interest rate is likely to result in Rs 1 trillion worth of debt (which is 3 per cent of total consolidated debt) held by the top 500 corporate borrowers falling into the potential stress category,” it said.
It expects Rs 26 billion additional outlay because of an increase in interest expenses, considering the interest rate increase will be up to 0.75 per cent under the stress case scenario until FY19 from the current effective interest rate of 9 per cent. Economists at the German brokerage Deutsche Bank said the tone of the policy was less hawkish than what was initially feared. “It indicates to us that the RBI does not want to embark on a rate hike cycle in a hurry, given growth considerations. We welcome such prudence,” it said.
The economic research team at the country’s largest lender SBI pointed out that given the events of the last three days in the markets and the budget announcement before, the status quo was the “ideal choice”. The Reserve Bank today kept interest rates unchanged for the third time in a row saying that higher government spending would accelerate inflation, and warned of risks from wider fiscal deficit. The 6-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), headed by RBI Governor Urjit Patel, retained the repurchase or repo rate at 6 per cent and reverse repo rate at 5.75 per cent.