India’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rates for the fifth policy meeting in a row on Wednesday due to sticky core inflation, but geared down the pace of tightening given the softness in economic growth outlook.
The Monetary Policy Committee of the Reserve Bank of India voted 5-1 to hike its key interest rate, the repo, by 35 basis points to 6.25 percent with immediate effect, Governor Shaktikanta Das said.
The central bank had previously raised the repo rate by a more aggressive 50 basis points at each of the previous three consecutive meetings. The RBI has raised rates by a cumulative 225 basis points since May.
The bank adjusted the standing deposit facility to 6.00 percent and marginal standing facility rate and the Bank Rate to 6.50 percent.
Governor Das said the RBI will keep a close eye on inflation dynamics and stands ready to act as may be necessary.
“Our actions will be nimble and in the best interest of the economy,” Das said after the bi-monthly meeting.
With headline inflation set to ease further and growth entering a softer patch, the central bank will call a halt to tightening in February, Capital Economics’ economist Shilan Shah said.
The MPC also voted 4-2 to remain focused on withdrawal of accommodation to ensure that inflation remains within the target going forward, while supporting growth.
Despite hostile international environment, the Indian economy remains resilient, drawing strength from its macroeconomic fundamentals, Das noted.
The central bank lowered the economic growth projection for the current financial year 2022-23 to 6.8 percent from 7.0 percent.
Also, the latest outlook was bleaker than the 6.9 percent estimated by the World Bank on Tuesday. The Washington-based lender forecast 6.6 percent expansion for the next financial year.
In the September quarter, India’s economy had expanded 6.3 percent, which was much weaker than the 13.5 percent growth logged in the June quarter.
The inflation trajectory largely evolved in line with the projections, Das observed. The MPC is more concerned about the high and sticky core inflation and exposure of food inflation to global factors, he said.
Consumer price inflation weakened to 6.77 percent in October from a five-month high of 7.41 percent in September.
RBI maintained its consumer price inflation forecast at 6.7 percent for the current year. Over the next twelve months, inflation is projected to stay above the 4 percent target.