Raghuram Rajan took a host of measures on the liquidity front, starting with the narrowing of the policy rate corridor to 0.50 per cent from the earlier 1 percentage point, which resulted in the reverse repo rate - at which banks can park excess funds with the RBI - being reset at 6 per cent.
The Reserve Bank on Tuesday cut the key interest rate by 0.25 per cent and introduced a host of measures to smoothen liquidity supply so that banks can lend to the productive sectors and indicated accommodative stance going ahead.
– GROWTH: Given weak private investment in the face of low capacity utilisation, a reduction in the policy rate by 0.25 per cent will help strengthen growth, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said in the first bi-monthly monetary policy review for the 2016-17 fiscal, which began on April 1. The uneven recovery in growth in 2015-16 is likely to strengthen gradually into 2016-17, assuming a normal monsoon, the likely boost to consumption demand from the implementation of the 7th Pay Commission recommendations and OROP, and continuing monetary policy accommodation.
– INFLATION: The central bank said it expects the implementation of the Pay Commission report to hurt inflation by 1-1.5 per cent over a two year period. The stubborn underlying inflation momentum is unlikely to be helped by the 7th Pay Commission award and the effects of the one-rank-one-pension (OROP) award, or by the cost-push effect of the increase in the service tax rate. However, rural wage growth as well as the rate of increase in corporate staff costs was moderate. Also, input and output prices polled in purchasing managers’ surveys rose modestly for manufacturing and services.
–LIQUIDITY: Raghuram Rajan also took a host of measures on the liquidity front, starting with the narrowing of the policy rate corridor to 0.50 per cent from the earlier 1 percentage point, which resulted in the reverse repo rate – at which banks can park excess funds with the RBI – being reset at 6 per cent. Liquidity conditions, which had tightened since mid-December, were stretched further by the larger-than-usual accumulation of cash balances by the Government, unusually heightened and persistent demand for currency, a pick-up in bank credit and flatter deposit mobilisation at this time relative to past years. The Reserve Bank undertook liquidity operations to quell these pressures and supplemented normal operations with large amounts of liquidity injected through fine-tuning variable rate repo auctions in tenors ranging between overnight and 56 days.
–TRANSMISSION: The reduction in small savings rates announced in March 2016, the substantial refinements in the liquidity management framework announced in this policy review and the introduction of the marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR) should improve transmission and magnify the effects of the current policy rate cut. The stance of monetary policy will remain accommodative. The Reserve Bank will continue to watch macroeconomic and financial developments in the months ahead with a view to responding with further policy action as space opens up.
–BANKING: Currently, banks provide services through a variety of business outlets – branches; extension counters; satellite offices; mobile branches; ultra small branches and the like. The current policy approach is to facilitate adequate outreach of banking outlets in unbanked areas while at the same time providing autonomy to banks to decide their business strategy. Given that regulations are written in terms of branches, with a view to facilitating financial inclusion and providing flexibility on the choice of delivery channel, it is proposed to redefine branches and permissible methods of outreach keeping in mind the various attributes of the banks and the types of services that are sought to be provided.