RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan on Tuesday announced its monetary policy review and left the key policy rate unchanged. However, it indicated at a accommodative stance on inflation and further rate cut. Rajan said with “inflation moving closer to the target” there would be more room for rate cut to support growth.
However, the RBI also mentioned about Seventh Central Pay Commission risks to the fiscal deficit, which was not factored in the central bank’s inflation trajectory. Therefore, the RBI is in ‘wait n watch’ mode as to what government does in the Union Budget and what big states are doing with their own state pay commissions (Punjab, UP, WB, Kerala and Tamil Nadu – all election bound – and HP have already announced setting up of their respective Pay Commissions, and likely to be followed by the remaining).
“Inflation has evolved closely along the trajectory set by the monetary policy stance. With unfavourable base effects on the ebb and benign prices of fruits and vegetables and crude oil, the January 2016 target of 6 per cent should be met,” Rajan said but added a caveat on the impact of the seventh pay commission implementation on the price index.
“Going forward, under the assumption of a normal monsoon and the current level of international crude oil prices and exchange rates, inflation is expected to be inertial and be around 5 per cent by the end of fiscal 2017, ” RBI said.
“However, the implementation of the Seventh Central Pay Commission award, which has not been factored into these projections, will impart upward momentum to this trajectory for a period of one to two years. The Reserve Bank will adjust the forecast path as and when more clarity emerges on the timing of implementation,” Rajan said.
“As per our estimate, the Pay Commission implementation by the Centre and state governments would lead to a $50 bn fiscal stimulus over the next two years. The downside risks emanate from softer global commodity prices and a normal monsoon. However, the RBI would like to wait and watch as these factors play out over the next few months before being in a position to recalibrate the glide path of inflation and respond accordingly. We believe that the upside risks are marginally higher than the downside risks as of now, and hence we do not see any policy rate cuts in FY17,” said Jay Shankar, chief India economist & director, Religare Capital Markets.