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Need to be watchful on inflation even as we prioritise growth: MPC minutes

Focus on revival and sustenance of growth is the most desirable policy option while of course remaining watchful of the inflation trajectory, governor Shaktikanta Das said

Reserve Bank of India | monetary policy

Reuters  |  Mumbai 

Inflation, Indian economy
The wholesale price inflation rate rose 12.94 per cent, its highest in at least two decades | Photo: Bloomberg

India's committee must be watchful of inflation expectations getting entrenched if prices remain elevated for too long, as it could undermine its hard-earned credibility in efficient inflation targeting, MPC member Jayant Varma wrote in the June meeting minutes published on Friday.

"To maintain and enhance this credibility, the MPC needs to remain data driven so that it can respond rapidly and adequately to any unforeseen shocks that may arise in future," he said.

Earlier in the month, the (RBI) kept interest rates at record lows and promised to keep its policy accommodative for as long as necessary and said current inflation pressures would likely be transient.

Data released after the policy review showed India's annual retail inflation rate rose 6.30 per cent year-on-year in May, breaching the RBI's upper tolerance band of 6 per cent and up from 4.29 per cent in April and sharply above analysts' estimate of 5.30 per cent.

The wholesale price inflation rate rose 12.94 per cent, its highest in at least two decades.

The data has raised concerns over how long the RBI can retain its policy accommodation and though bets on policy normalisation had been pushed back after the second wave of the pandemic hit the country, rising inflation risks have again brought forward those expectations.

"Clear signs of generalisation in CPI inflation setting in could be a tipping point where growth-inflation dynamics could alter," RBI executive director and MPC member Mridul Saggar wrote.

"Also, with a further rise in elevated inflation expectations, policy may need to respond if these expectations are becoming unhinged," he added.

However, most members believe that retail inflation is not yet predominantly demand-driven and thus it was not worth sacrificing growth to lower price pressures as yet.

Varma said there is a fear that the health shock is inducing high levels of precautionary savings that could depress demand for several quarters to come, and thus at this point the need is for monetary accommodation to support economic recovery.

Gross domestic product grew 1.6 per cent in January-March compared with the same period a year earlier while for the year as a whole, the economy contracted 7.3 per cent, data late last month showed.

"Focus on revival and sustenance of growth is the most desirable policy option while of course remaining watchful of the inflation trajectory," governor Shaktikanta Das wrote.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Fri, June 18 2021. 18:25 IST