RBI keeps benchmark interest rates unchanged, sees GDP contracting by 9.5% in FY2020-21

The central bank announces a series of measures to enhance liquidity support to financial markets.

The monetary policy committee of the Reserve Bank of India has unanimously decided to keep the key lending rates unchanged, Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Friday.

The MPC voted unanimously to leave the policy repo rate unchanged at 4%. The MPC also decided to continue with its accommodative policy stance till as long as required this year and next year, he said.

“After the steep decline into which global economy plunged in second quarter of this year, there’s a rebound in activity in the third quarter but it is not even,” Mr. Das observed.

The Indian economy is entering a decisive phase in the fight against COVID-19. By all indications, the deep contractions of Q1 2020-21 are behind us. Silver linings are among us, Mr. Das said adding that he always “dared to be an optimist.”

The focus must now shift from containment to revival, Mr. Das said.

Undeterred by the pandemic, rural economy has been resilient. Early estimates suggest foodgrain production is set to cross another record in 2020-21.

Migrant labour is returning to work in urban areas, factories and construction activity are coming back to life. Online commerce is booming, and people are getting back to offices, Mr. Das listed.

Mr. Das said he expects Q4 to record a positive growth. “The modest recovery in high-frequency indicators in September will further improve in the second half of this year,” he added.

For 2020-21, real GDP is expected to contract by 9.5% with risks on the downside. Our assessment is that inflation will remain elevated in September but ease gradually in Q3 and Q4, he said.

Measures to enhance liquidity support to financial markets

To provide impetus to revive the economy, some measures are being announced to enhance liquidity support to financial markets, routing support to sectors that need help and improving ease of doing business, Mr. Das said.

For Housing loans, differential risk weights are assigned to loans based on their size and the loan to value ratios. It has been decided to rationalise the risk weights and link them to loans-to-valueratios alone, for a period up to March 31, 2022.

To augment credit flows to affected sectors, the retail lending thresholds for banks are being revised – to raise the Rs 5 crore limit to Rs 7.5 crore for all fresh loans as well as incremental qualifying exposure.

To facilitate swift and seamless payments in real time, the RTGS system will be made available round the clock from December 2020.

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