India Inc, investors disappointed with RBI’s status quo on lending rates


New Delhi/Mumbai, Dec 6 : India Inc and investors on Wednesday expressed their disappointment over the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) decision to maintain the status quo on key lending rates during its fifth monetary policy review of 2017-18.

“Ficci is disappointed with the RBI’s decision to hold on to the policy rate at the current level. A downward revision would have boosted sentiment and supported the growth momentum that we are seeing building up following the second quarter GDP numbers,” said Ficci’s President Pankaj Patel.

“The initial signs of a turnaround in the economy need all support to translate into a solid recovery that is critical from a jobs perspective. A cut in the policy rate with some more targeted intervention in the form of easing conditions for extending housing loans would have provided the needed stimulus and complemented government’s own efforts to lend strength to the economic recovery process.”Industry body CII said that reduction in interest rates would give the necessary signal that fiscal and monetary policy are working in consonance to give a boost to growth.

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“We are hopeful that going forward the RBI would shift its policy stance from neutral to accommodative and effect a cut in interest rates to revive domestic demand which would provide a fillip to broad-based investment activity which has yet to take off in a big way,” said CII’s Director General Chandrajit Banerjee. 

According to Assocham, while inflation weighed on the RBI’s decision, growth concerns “cannot be brushed aside” either, as the cost of capital is still high in India.

“India Inc continues to remain over-leveraged while the consumer demand is still subdued. Benign interest rates are solutions to both these issues. As for inflation, the RBI has genuine concerns but the message must be picked up by the government to fix the supply side, especially in the items of common use,” Assocham’s President Sandeep Jajodia was quoted as saying in a statement.

“The need of the hour is to attend to inefficiencies in the entire value chain in the farm sector so that both producers and consumers get a fair deal without impacting inflation. As for revival of growth, besides the interest rates, the tight liquidity situation should also be monitored. It must be ensured that when the growth stimulus picks up, adequate credit be made available to the industry, trade and consumer.”

Commenting on the outcome of the fifth monetary policy review, Chanda Kochhar, MD and CEO, ICICI Bank said: “The RBI’s decision to keep the policy rate unchanged today is in line with expectations. It has displayed prudence in highlighting adverse risks to the inflation trajectory. It has also taken cognizance of further improvement in growth prospects on account of various structural reforms implemented by the government including bank recapitalisation.”

“It is heartening to note that the RBI has also communicated greater clarity on the liquidity framework indicating that it is ready to deploy both short term and durable tools to absorb or inject liquidity as the need arises,” Kochhar said.

Banking major State Bank of India’s (SBI) Chairman Rajnish Kumar said: “The RBI decision to maintain status quo was in consonance with market expectations.” 

“The policy assessment is fairly balanced and pragmatic with inflation and growth both expected to show an uptick in next two quarters. The decision in allowing subsidiaries of Indian banks abroad to refinance AAA rated corporates will provide a fair and just opportunity to Indian banks to book and retain good quality assets,” Kumar added.

Even the country’s stock exchanges extended their losses after the RBI’s decision. 

On a closing basis, the wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) fell by 74.15 points or 0.73 per cent to 10,044.10 points.

The barometer 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE closed at 32,597.18 points — down 205.26 points or 0.63 per cent — from its previous close.

On sector-specific basis, rate-sensitive stocks like banking, metals and capital goods were the hardest hit with the Nifty Bank index down 1.09 per cent.