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RBI’s muted monetary policy: The calm before potential summer storm

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Dr Srinath Sridharan

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Dr Srinath Sridharan

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The Reserve Bank of India's consistent efforts have effectively safeguarded the Indian economy amidst global uncertainties. Now, as the central bank enters its 90th year, it must navigate the country’s economy through the challenges presented by the national elections and climate change.

April 08, 2024

6 MINS READ

Key Takeaways

  • The RBI’s first monetary policy meeting of FY25 was a study in restraint and prudence
  • The central bank maintained the existing repo rate, indicating its satisfaction with the country’s economic trajectory
  • However, the RBI will have to remain vigilant and ready to take action as the upcoming national elections and the looming impact of climate change threaten to amplify inflationary pressures
  • Should the RBI navigate these challenges, though, its growing forex reserves coupled with a potential victory for the current government should make for a conducive economic environment

At the recently concluded Monetary Policy Committee meeting of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)—the first of the new fiscal year—the country’s central bank played it simple and safe. It maintained the repo rate—the rate at which commercial banks borrow from the RBI—at 6.5% for the seventh consecutive time since April 2023, showcasing confidence in India’s current economic path. 

Its convictions are rooted in its projections, which forecast retail inflation of 4.5% for the year ending March 2025, coupled with an expected gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 7%, reflecting robust economic prospects.

“Since the last policy, the growth-inflation dynamics have played out favourably. Growth has continued to sustain its momentum surpassing all projections. Headline inflation has eased to 5.1% during January and February 2024 from 5.7% in December 2023, with core inflation declining steadily over the past nine months to its lowest level in the series,” RBI governor Shaktikanta Das said, explaining the logic behind the MPC’s decisions. He added that the fuel component of the CPI (consumer price index) remained in deflation for six consecutive months, but acknowledged that food inflation pressures had strengthened in February.

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