RBI committee has noted that there has been a significant jump in financial inclusion-related activities. (Photo: Reuters)

Jaitley Makes Case For Rate Cut; Experts Say RBI May Wait For GST

The government on Monday made a case for a lower interest rate regime citing low inflation as well as the need to revive investments and growth even as experts said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may assess the impact of GST on prices before cutting policy rates.

The six-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) headed by RBI Governor Urjit Patel will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday for the Second Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement for 2017-18, with experts saying that a status quo on rates is likely.

Inflation has been under control for long and is likely to remain so on the back of good monsoon and unlikely spike in oil prices, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told CNBC TV18 in an interview.

...growth and investment need to improve. These are indicators which are available. Any finance minister under these circumstances would like a rate cut, the private sector would like a rate cut. But then when you entrusted it with the MPC, I would rather wait for their decision.
Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister

Industry has been pitching for a rate cut to boost GDP growth which fell to 7.1 per cent in 2016-17, from 8 per cent in the previous fiscal.

The Reserve Bank, however, may wait for the July 1 roll out of the GST and assess the impact of the new indirect tax regime on inflation before tinkering with the policy rates.

Also Read: Economists See RBI Holding Rates Even As Inflation Concerns Abate

“I do not think RBI will cut repo rate in the upcoming policy. They will wait for CPI data before taking a call. The tone of the policy is likely to be dovish,” Union Bank of India executive director Vinod Kathuria said.

The inflation data for July, to be released in August, will give an indication on the impact of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on prices.

Retail inflation, based on Consumer Price Index (CPI), dropped to multi-year low at 2.99 percent in April over last year, mainly due to lower cost of food items, including pulses and vegetables. CPI inflation was 5.47 percent in April 2016.

At the same time, inflation based on the wholesale price index slipped to a four-month low of 3.85 percent in April as both food articles and manufactured items showed cooling in prices.

Also Read: RBI Policy: The Risk Of Rushing Toward An Inflation Target Prematurely

“Given the inflation trajectory and as the liquidity is enough in the market, it is unlikely that there would be any rate cut this time. I think commentary of the policy will be benign,” State Bank of India Deputy Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer Anshula Kant said.

As per official estimates, GST would bring down inflation by 2 percent in the long run as the cascading effect of tax on tax would go.

On April 6, the RBI had left its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 6.25 percent for the third monetary policy review in a row, citing upside risk to inflation.

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