The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may cut key lending rates by another 25 basis points on Thursday to boost economic activities amid fears of global slowdown impacting domestic growth prospects, experts said. The RBI had reduced the repo rate by 25 basis points in February after a gap of 18 months. A back-to-back cut in interest rate would provide relief to borrowers in the election season.
The six-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) headed by RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das will meet for three days in Mumbai and announce the decision on interest rate on April 4.
It would be the first bi-monthly monetary policy of 2019-20. Das has already held meetings with stakeholders including industry bodies, depositors association, MSME representatives and bankers.
The industry is pitching for another rate cut as the inflation is well below the RBI’s mandate of 4 per cent and need the for boosting economic growth is pressing. V K Sharma, Head PCG and Capital Markets Strategy at HDFC Securities, said the market has factored in a 25 basis-point cut and a change in stance to accommodative from neutral, adding that the expected increase in liquidity and cut in interest rates auger well for the market.
PFB Shanti Ekambaram, President (Consumer Banking) at Kotak Mahindra Bank, said global and local factors will guide future policy action. Consumption has slowed down a bit and the investment cycle is still slow.
“It is likely that there could be another 25 basis-point rate cut later in the year, but that would be dependent on inflation and growth data. In addition, the central bank will keep an eye on the post-elections budget, monsoons and oil prices,” Ekambaram added.
Director General of CII Chandrajit Banerjee said the inflation trajectory has remained benign which further warrants a reduction in interest rate.
“In view of the visible signs of a growth slowdown in the second half of 2018-19, it is requested that the RBI should reduce the repo rate by at least 25 basis points in the upcoming policy and maintain a softening trend in monetary policy,” he said.
Banerjee was also said in order that the rate cut be effectively transmitted to banks, a reduction in the cash reserve ratio (CRR) is also recommended so that it frees up banks cash for lending purposes.
The MPC, which includes two representatives from the central bank and three external members, will take into account the data on retail inflation, industrial production and global economic outlook while arriving at its monetary policy.
Subdued performance of manufacturing sector, especially capital and consumer goods, had pulled down the growth in industrial production to 1.7 per cent in January from 7.5 per cent a year ago. The data on Index of Industrial Production (IIP) for February is yet to be released.
Retail inflation based on Consumer Price Index (CPI) continues to remain below 4 per cent. It was 2.57 per cent in February year-on-year. China, which is one of the India’s largest trading partner, recently lowered its economic growth target amid slowing global economy and a effects of trade war with the US.
As per the US commerce department, the American economy grew 2.2 per cent in fourth quarter of 2018, lower than the 2.6 per cent estimated earlier.