Mumbai: In a move that is likely to bring cheers to the consumers, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut repo rate by 0.25 per cent on Friday for the third time since January. The cut may lead to softening of loan EMIs.
Following the 25 basis points cut, the repo rate stands at 7.25 per cent, its lowest since May 2011 even as Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) has been kept unchanged at four per cent. The RBI also pegged India's economic growth for the 2013-14 fiscal at 5.7 per cent.
However, it warned that the risk of inflationary pressure persists despite a recent sharp decline in wholesale price index (WPI) inflation, and said a high current account deficit poses the biggest risk "by far" to the Indian economy.
"The balance of risks stemming from the Reserve Bank's assessment of the growth-inflation dynamic yields little space for further monetary easing," the RBI wrote in its policy statement.
Some in the market had been hoping for more aggressive policy easing action and a less hawkish tone from RBI Governor Duvvuri Subbarao as India grapples with economic growth that slowed to about 5 per cent in the fiscal year that ended in March, its weakest in a decade.
India's headline inflation in March fell to its lowest in more than three years at 5.96 per cent, but the consumer price index remained elevated at 10.39 per cent.
The current account deficit swelled to a record 6.7 per cent of GDP in the December quarter. While it is expected to ease on lower global commodity prices and a rise in exports, it is on track to remain well above the 2.5 per cent level that is seen as sustainable.
"Should global liquidity conditions rapidly tighten, India could potentially face a problem of sudden stop and reversal of capital flows jeopardising our macro-financial stability," it said.
The central bank said it expects the economy to grow at 5.7 percent in the fiscal year that started in April, and projected headline WPI inflation at around 5.5 percent during the year.
It said its intention is to lower WPI inflation to 5 percent by March 2014 "using all instruments at its command."
The RBI once again urged the government to take measures to ease supply constraints in the economy and encourage investment.
"Without policy efforts to unlock the tightening supply constraints and bring enduring improvements in productivity and competitiveness, growth could weaken even further and inflationary strains could re-emerge," it said.
(With additional information from Reuters)