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RBI Monetary Policy: Read the full text of RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das' speech

Read full text of Reserve Bank of India governor Shaktikanta Das speech here.

April 07, 2021 / 11:22 AM IST
RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das


The monetary policy committee (MPC), on April 7, retained the key policy rates unchanged indicating that a status-quo will be desirable at this juncture when the growth-inflation scenario remains uncertain.

The rate-setting panel also cautioned about the threats emerging from a persisting high inflation and suggested that it will await more data for a clearer trend. The MPC also indicated that growth recovery is at a nascent stage but sounded optimistic of growth revival this year.

The RBI retained the repo rate, at which it lends short-term funds to banks, at 4 percent. The reverse repo rate stands at 3.35 percent. The MPC has been a cautious mode since the start of COVID-19 in 2020 and has largely remained on status-quo throughout citing uncertainty in macro-economic trends.

Here is the full text of RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das's speech:

Governor’s Statement, April 7

Close
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) met on 5th, 6th and 7th April,
2021 and deliberated on current and evolving macroeconomic and
financial developments, both domestic and global. The MPC voted
unanimously to leave the policy repo rate unchanged at 4 per cent. It also
unanimously decided to continue with the accommodative stance as long
as necessary to sustain growth on a durable basis and continue to
mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, while ensuring that
inflation remains within the target going forward. The marginal standing
facility (MSF) rate and the bank rate remain unchanged at 4.25 per cent.

The reverse repo rate stands unchanged at 3.35 per cent.

2. Let me start by laying out briefly the MPC’s decision and its
underlying rationale. Since its last meeting, headline inflation, after
moderating close to the target rate in January 2021, firmed up to 5.0 per
cent in February 2021, primarily due to an adverse base effect. Looking
ahead, the evolving CPI inflation trajectory is likely to be subjected to both
upside and downside pressures. The bumper foodgrains production in
2020-21 should result in softening of cereal prices going forward.
Mitigation of price pressures on key food items such as protein-based
components and edible oils would also depend on supply-side measures
and easing of international prices. The MPC noted that underlying inflation pressures emanate from high international commodity prices and logistics
costs. The softening in crude prices seen in recent weeks, if it sustains,

can assuage input cost pressures.

3. The National Statistical Office (NSO) in its update on February 26,
2021 placed the contraction in real GDP at 8.0 per cent for 2020-21.
Prospects for 2021-22 have strengthened with the progress of the
vaccination programme. The recent surge in infections has, however,
imparted greater uncertainty to the outlook and needs to be closely
watched, especially as localised and regional lockdowns could dampen
the recent improvement in demand conditions and delay the return of
normalcy. Against this backdrop, the MPC judged that monetary policy
should remain accommodative to support and nurture the recovery. In
other words, the stance of monetary policy will remain accommodative till
the prospects of sustained recovery are well secured while closely

monitoring the evolving outlook for inflation.

Assessment of Growth and Inflation
Growth
4. Global growth is gradually recovering from the slowdown, but it
remains uneven across countries and is supported by ongoing vaccination
drives, sustained accommodative monetary policies and further sizeable
fiscal stimulus. World output is projected by the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD) to reach its pre-pandemic level
by mid-2021, though it will be largely contingent on the pace of vaccine
distribution and its efficacy against emerging variants of the virus.
Stronger external demand should support India’s exports and investment

demand.

5. In the domestic economy, the focus must now be on containing the
spread of the virus as well as on economic revival - consolidating the gains
achieved so far and sustaining the impulses of growth in the new financial
year (2021-22). A key aspect of this strategy will be to strengthen the
bedrock of macroeconomic stability that has anchored India’s revival from
the pandemic. This will help stakeholders in taking efficient spending
decisions over longer horizons, thereby improving the investment climate.
Public investment in key infrastructure sectors is a force multiplier with
historically proven ability to revive the broader economy by directly
enhancing capital stock and productivity, and by attracting private
investment. The focus of the Union Budget 2021-22 on investment-led
measures with increased allocations for capital expenditure; the
expanded production-linked incentives (PLI) scheme; and rising capacity
utilisation (from 63.3 per cent in Q2:2020-21 to 66.6 per cent in Q3:2020-
21) will reinforce the process of economic revival. In fact, firms engaged
in manufacturing, services and infrastructure sector polled by the Reserve
Bank in March 2021 are optimistic about a pick-up in demand and

expansion of business activity into financial year 2021-22.

6. Juxtaposition of high frequency lead and coincident indicators
reveals that economic activity is normalising in spite of the surge in
infections. Rural demand remains buoyant and record agriculture
production in 2020-21 bodes well for its resilience. Urban demand has

gained traction and should get a fillip with the ongoing vaccination drive.

7. The recent surge in COVID-19 infections, however, adds

uncertainty to the domestic growth outlook amidst tightening of restrictions by some state governments. In India, we are now better prepared to meet the challenges posed by this resurgence in infections. Fiscal and monetary authorities stand ready to act in a coordinated manner to limit its spillovers to the economy at large and contain its fallout on the ongoing recovery. There is concern around rising cases of infections but as Martin Luther King Jr had said and I quote: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope1”.

8. The increase in international commodity prices since the February
policy and recurrence of global financial market volatility like the bout
experienced in late February accentuates the downside risks. The upside
risks, however, come from (i) the vaccination programme being speeded
up and increasingly extended to the wider segments of the population; (ii)
the gradual release of pent-up demand; and (iii) the investment-enhancing
and growth-supportive reform measures taken by the Government.
Taking these factors into consideration, the projection of real GDP growth
for 2021-22 is retained at 10.5 per cent consisting of 26.2 per cent in Q1;

8.3 per cent in Q2; 5.4 per cent in Q3; and 6.2 per cent in Q4.

Inflation

9. While headline inflation at 5.0 per cent in February 2021 remains
within the tolerance band, some underlying constituents are testing the

upper tolerance level.

10. Going forward, the food inflation trajectory will critically depend on
the temporal and spatial progress of the south-west monsoon in its 2021
season. Second, some respite from the incidence of domestic taxes on
petroleum products through coordinated action by the Centre and States
could provide relief on top of the recent easing of international crude
prices. Third, a combination of high international commodity prices and
logistics costs may push up input price pressures across manufacturing and services. Taking into consideration all these factors, the projection for
CPI inflation has been revised to 5.0 per cent in Q4:2020-21; 5.2 per cent
in Q1:2021-22; 5.2 per cent in Q2; 4.4 per cent in Q3; and 5.1 per cent in

Q4, with risks broadly balanced.

11. On March 31, 2021, the Government retained the inflation target at
4 per cent with the lower and upper tolerance levels of 2 per cent and 6
per cent, respectively, for the next five years (April 2021-March 2026). An
inflation rate of 4 per cent over the medium term has now been
successfully entrenched in the economic landscape. The experience with
efficaciously maintaining price stability and the gains in credibility for
monetary policy since the beginning of the inflation targeting framework in
2016 are reinforced by the retention of the target and the tolerance band.
From the time after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) was
constituted in September 2016, average CPI inflation for the period
October 2016 to February 2020 – prior to the onset of the COVID-19
pandemic – was 3.8 per cent, down from the average of 7.3 per cent
during January 2012 to September 2016. Our research suggests that
trend inflation has moderated during the flexible inflation targeting period
to around 4 per cent in recent times. The experience during the COVID19 period has testified to the flexibility of the framework to respond to
sharp growth-inflation trade-offs and extreme supply-side shocks over the
course of the business cycle. Monetary policy over the next five years
would aim at consolidating and building upon the credibility gains of the

first 5 years of flexible inflation targeting.

Liquidity Guidance
12. In my statements over the past few policy announcements, I have
been reiterating the Reserve Bank’s commitment to ensuring ample
system liquidity in consonance with the accommodative stance of the MPC. When I say ample liquidity, I mean a level of liquidity that would
keep the system in surplus even after meeting the requirements of all
financial market segments and the productive sectors of the economy.
From that perspective, our endeavour has been to conduct liquidity
management operations conducive for promoting orderly market
conditions. This approach has yielded dividends. It has facilitated the
successful completion of central and state government borrowing
programmes of close to ₹22.0 lakh crore at record low costs with
elongated maturity during 2020-21. It has also facilitated significant
amount of private borrowing through corporate bonds, commercial paper

and debentures.

13. It would be worthwhile to note that despite the recommencement of 14-day variable rate reverse repo (VRRR) auctions since January 15,
2021, liquidity absorbed through the fixed rate reverse repo has steadily
increased from a fortnightly average of ₹4.3 lakh crore during January 16-
29 to ₹4.9 lakh crore during January 30-March 31, 2021. Reflecting the
surplus liquidity, reserve money rose by 14.2 per cent(YoY) as on March
26, 2021 driven by currency demand, while money supply (M3) grew by
11.8 per cent (YoY) (as on March 26), with bank credit growth at 5.6 per
cent(YoY) (as on March 26). In view of the success of VRRR and given
the rising level of surplus liquidity, it has now been decided to conduct
VRRR auctions of longer maturity as indicated in the Revised Liquidity
Management Framework announced on February 06, 2020. The amount
and tenor of these auctions will be decided based on the evolving liquidity
and financial conditions. This is a part of RBI’s liquidity management
operations and should not be read as liquidity tightening. In fact, by paying
a higher rate of interest on liquidity absorptions through the VRRR

auctions, the RBI is indirectly expanding liquidity.

14. Since mid-February this year, global financial markets have
increasingly turned volatile, driven by a surge in sovereign bond yields
over inflation concerns stemming from the edging up of international
commodity prices as well as expectations of stronger growth. Bond market
volatility and strengthening of the US dollar spilled over to emerging
markets. Expectations of a reflationary cycle in the US led to a
retrenchment of portfolio flows to emerging market economies (EMEs)

which continued through March.

15. Given the strong inter-connectedness of financial markets across
borders and progressive integration into the global financial cycle, there
was an upsurge of investor unease in India, despite repeated assurances
and forward guidance on liquidity given by the RBI. The benchmark 10-
year yield, which traded at 5.93 per cent (on an average) during April
2020-January 2021, spiked to 6.25 per cent on March 10, 2021 before
coming down again. In sync with G-sec yields, corporate bond yields also
hardened across issuers and rating categories in the recent period. Since
end-January 2021, AAA corporate bond yields of 3-year and 5-year
maturities have firmed up by 30 bps and 31 bps, respectively, by March
31, 2021. Reflecting these developments, corporate bond issuance in
February at ₹45,685 crore has moderated from its peak of ₹88,130 crore

recorded in December 2020.

16. Taking note of the market’s discomfort and in consonance with our
commitment to ensure ample liquidity and orderly market conditions, the
Reserve Bank scaled up its open market operations (OMOs) in February
and conducted five special OMOs (operation twists) in February and
March; increased the amount for the operation twist (OT) auction on
March 4, 2021 from ₹10,000 crore to ₹15,000 crore; and adopted an
innovative asymmetrical special OMO (purchase of ₹20,000 crore and sale of ₹15,000 crore) on March 10, 2021 to reinforce the compression of
term premia as well as to inject liquidity which drew a favourable market
response. These were clear signals that the Reserve Bank will support
the market with adequate liquidity through various instruments in its
toolkit. The liquidity impact of OMOs could be gauged from the fact that
we made net outright purchases amounting to ₹3.13 lakh crore during

2020-21.

17. For the year 2021-22, drawing on this experience, we have decided
to put in place what is termed as a secondary market G-sec acquisition
programme or G-SAP 1.0, to give it a distinct character. Under the
programme, the RBI will commit upfront to a specific amount of open
market purchases of government securities with a view to enabling a
stable and orderly evolution of the yield curve amidst comfortable liquidity
conditions. The endeavour will be to ensure congenial financial conditions
for the recovery to gain traction. For Q1 of 2021-22, therefore, it has been
decided to announce a G-SAP of ₹1 lakh crore. The first purchase of
government securities for an aggregate amount of ₹25,000 crore under

G-SAP 1.0 will be conducted on April 15, 2021.

18. The positive externalities of G-SAP 1.0 operations need to be seen
in the context of those segments of the financial markets that rely on the
G-sec yield curve as a pricing benchmark. In addition, the extension of
Held-to-Maturity (HTM) dispensation opens up space for investments of
more than ₹4.0 lakh crore. We will also continue to deploy our regular
operations under the LAF, longer-term repo/reverse repo auctions, forex
operations and open market operations including special OMOs to ensure
liquidity conditions evolve in consonance with the stance of monetary

policy and financial conditions are supportive for all stakeholders.

19. While laying out the liquidity management strategy for 2021-22, let
me unequivocally state that the Reserve Bank’s endeavour is to ensure
orderly evolution of the yield curve, governed by fundamentals as distinct
from any specific level thereof. Our objective is to eschew volatility in the
G-sec market in view of its central role in the pricing of other financial
market instruments across the term structure and issuers, both in the
public and private sectors. This is a necessary prerequisite for the nascent
and hesitant recovery to firm up and become durable. Needless to add,
two-way movements in bond yields consistent with the fundamentals are
quite normal from a market perspective; however, such movements
should not be abrupt and disruptive if financial stability has to be

preserved.

20. The Reserve Bank will of course continue to do whatever it takes to
preserve financial stability and to insulate domestic financial markets from
global spillovers and the consequent volatility. I would urge market
participants to take heed of our actions, communication and signals in a
balanced manner. Together, we can overcome the challenges and lay the
foundations for a durable recovery beyond the pandemic. Let us prepare

for our tryst with our potential firmly.

Additional Measures
21. Against this backdrop, and with a view to nurture the recovery,
certain additional measures are being announced. The details of the
measures are set out in the statement on developmental and regulatory

policies (Part-B) of the Monetary Policy Statement.

TLTRO on Tap Scheme – Extension of Deadline

22. With a view to increasing the focus of liquidity measures on revival
of activity in specific sectors, the TLTRO on Tap Scheme announced
on October 9, 2020 which was made available up to March 31, 2021, is
now being further extended by a period of six months i.e., upto September

30, 2021.

Liquidity Facility for All India Financial Institutions

23. Special refinance facilities of ₹75,000 crore were provided to All
India Financial Institutions (AIFIs) like NABARD, SIDBI, NHB and EXIM
bank during April-August 2020. To nurture the still nascent growth
impulses, it is felt necessary to support continued flow of credit to the real
economy. Accordingly, liquidity support of ₹50,000 crore for fresh lending
during 2021-22 will be provided to AIFIs: ₹25,000 crore to NABARD;

₹10,000 crore to NHB; and ₹15,000 crore to SIDBI.

Enhancement of Limit of Maximum Balance for Payments Banks

24. With a view to furthering financial inclusion and to expand the ability
of payments banks to cater to the growing needs of their customers, the
current limit on maximum end of day balance of ₹1 lakh per individual

customer is being increased to ₹2 lakh with immediate effect.

Asset Reconstruction Companies – Constitution of a Committee

25. Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs) play an important role in
the resolution of stressed assets. Their potential, however, is yet to be
fully realised. It is, therefore, proposed to constitute a committee to
undertake a comprehensive review of the working of ARCs and
recommend measures to enable these entities to meet the growing

requirements of the financial sector.

Permitting Banks to On-lend through NBFCs

26. Recognising the key role played by NBFCs in making credit
available to the last mile, bank lending to registered NBFCs (other than
MFIs) for on-lending to Agriculture, MSME and Housing was permitted to
be classified as Priority Sector lending (PSL). This dispensation which
was available from August 13, 2019 till March 31, 2021 is being further
extended for another six months up to September 30, 2021.
Priority Sector Lending (PSL) - Enhancement of Loan Limit against

eNWR/NWR

27. With a view to encouraging farm credit to individual farmers against
pledge/hypothecation of agricultural produce, it has been decided to
enhance the loan limit under priority sector lending(PSL) from ₹50 lakh to
₹75 lakh per borrower against the pledge/hypothecation of agricultural

produce backed by Negotiable Warehouse Receipts (NWRs)/electronicNWRs(e-NWRs) issued by warehouses registered with the Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA). For other Warehouse Receipts, the loan limit for classification under PSL will continue to be ₹50 lakh per borrower.

Financial Inclusion Index

28. Financial Inclusion has been a thrust area for the Government, the
Reserve Bank and other regulators, with significant progress made over
the years. To measure the extent of financial inclusion in the country, the
Reserve Bank proposes to construct and publish a Financial Inclusion
Index (FI Index) based on multiple parameters. This will be published in

July every year for the financial year ending previous March.

Centralised Payment Systems (CPS) – viz RTGS and NEFT –

Membership for Entities other than Banks

29. Membership to the RBI-operated Centralised Payment Systems
(CPSs) – RTGS and NEFT – is currently limited to banks, with a few
exceptions. It is now proposed to enable non-bank payment system
operators like Prepaid Payment Instrument(PPI) issuers, card networks,
White label ATM operators and Trade Receivables Discounting System
(TReDS) platforms regulated by the Reserve Bank, to take direct
membership in CPSs. This facility is expected to minimise settlement risk
in the financial system and enhance the reach of digital financial services

to all user segments. Interoperability of Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs), and Increase in Account Limit to ₹2 lakh

30. The Reserve Bank had issued guidelines in October 2018 for
adoption of interoperability on a voluntary basis for full-KYC Prepaid
Payment Instruments (PPIs). As the migration towards interoperability has
not been significant, it is now proposed to make interoperability mandatory
for full-KYC PPIs and for all payment acceptance infrastructure. To
incentivise the migration of PPIs to full-KYC, it is proposed to increase the
current limit on outstanding balance in such PPIs from ₹1 lakh to ₹2 lakh.

Cash Withdrawal from Full-KYC PPIs issued by Non-banks

31. At present, cash withdrawal is allowed only for full-KYC PPIs issued
by banks. As a confidence-boosting measure, and to bring uniformity
across PPI issuers, it is now proposed to allow cash withdrawals for fullKYC PPIs of non-bank PPI issuers. This measure, in conjunction with the
mandate for interoperability, will boost migration to full-KYC PPIs and
would also complement the acceptance infrastructure in Tier III to VI

centres.

Relaxation in the Period of Parking of External Commercial

Borrowing (ECB) Proceeds in Term Deposits

32. Under the extant External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) framework,
borrowers are allowed to place ECB proceeds in term deposits with AD
Category-I banks in India for a maximum period of 12 months. In view of
the difficulty faced by borrowers due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has
been decided to permit parking of unutilised ECB proceeds drawn down
on or before March 1, 2020 in term deposits with AD Category-I banks in

India prospectively up to March 1, 2022.

WMA limit for States/UTs

33. We have decided to accept the recommendations of an Advisory
Committee constituted by the Reserve Bank to review the Ways and
Means Advance (WMA) limits for State Governments/UTs and other
related issues. Accordingly, it has been decided to enhance the aggregate
WMA limit of states and UTs to ₹47,010 crore, an increase of about 46
per cent from the current limit of ₹32,225 crore which was fixed in
February 2016. Further, it has also been decided to continue the
enhanced interim WMA limit of ₹51,560 crore granted by RBI due to the

pandemic for a further period of six months i.e., up to September 30, 2021.

Conclusion

34. In contrast to the previous year, the hope generated by vaccination
drives in several countries at the start of the year 2021 has been
somewhat offset by rising infections and new mutant strains worldwide.
Yet, the speed and collective endeavour with which the world mobilised
scientific energies to develop vaccines, and pandemic-related protocols,
that have now become a way of life, give us hope and confidence that we
will sail through this renewed second/third surge. Localised spurts in rates
of infections will hopefully ebb with the COVID-19 vaccination drives. I truly believe in the indomitable spirit of the human race which confronted
the trial by virus during 2020 with resilience and fortitude and the will to
survive. Let 2021 be the harbinger of a new economic era for India. I
conclude by a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, who continues to inspire us:
“If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time. And a

living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm”2.

Thank you. Stay safe. Stay well. Namaskar.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Apr 7, 2021 11:22 am

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