In case the increase in house rent allowance as recommended by the 7th CPC is awarded, it will push up the baseline trajectory by an estimated 100-150 basis points over a period of 12-18 months, with this initial statistical impact on the CPI followed up by second-order effects.
Although risks are evenly balanced around the inflation trajectory at the current juncture, there are upside risks to the baseline projection. The main one stems from the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the south west monsoon in view of the rising probability of an El Nino event around July-August, and its implications for food inflation, said RBI in its First Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement.
According to it, a prominent risk could emanate from managing the implementation of the allowances recommended by the 7th CPC (Central Pay Commission). In case the increase in house rent allowance as recommended by the 7th CPC is awarded, it will push up the baseline trajectory by an estimated 100-150 basis points over a period of 12-18 months, with this initial statistical impact on the CPI followed up by second-order effects.
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Another upside risk arises from the one-off effects of the GST. The general government deficit, which is high by international comparison, poses yet another risk for the path of inflation, which is likely to be exacerbated by farm loan waivers.
Recent global developments entail a reflation risk which may lift commodity prices further and pass through into domestic inflation. Moreover, geopolitical risks may induce global financial market volatility with attendant spillovers.
On the downside, international crude prices have been easing recently and their pass-through to domestic prices of petroleum products should alleviate pressure on headline inflation. Also, stepped-up procurement operations in the wake of the record production of foodgrains will rebuild buffer stocks and mitigate food price stress, if it materialises.
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Since the February bi-monthly monetary policy statement, inflation has been quiescent. Headline CPI inflation is set to undershoot the target of 5.0 per cent for Q4 of 2016-17 in view of the sub-4 per cent readings for January and February. For 2017-18, inflation is projected to average 4.5 per cent in the first half of the year and 5 per cent in the second half.