India pauses rate hikes citing global market ‘uncertainty’
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) left the benchmark repurchase rate at 6.50 per cent after hikes at all six of its prior meetings since May 2022
Reserve Bank of India governor Shaktikanta Das (Photo: Getty Images)
India’s central bank held interest rates on Thursday (6) for the first time in nearly a year because of “unprecedented uncertainty” in global markets but said it was committed to taming persistent inflation.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) left the benchmark repurchase rate at 6.50 per cent after hikes at all six of its prior meetings since May 2022.
It defied market expectations of a 25 basis points hike and recent increases by the Federal Reserve, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England.
“What we are witnessing today is unprecedented uncertainty in geopolitics, economic activity, price pressures, and financial markets never seen before,” bank governor Shaktikanta Das said in a webcast.
“The decision to pause on the repo rate is for this meeting only” and the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee remained “focused on withdrawal of accommodation”, he added.
The RBI began raising rates after prices soared on the back of the Ukraine war.
Inflation remained at 6.44 per cent in February, above the RBI’s upper band of six per cent, but down from a peak of 7.79 per cent in April 2022.
“Our job is not yet finished, and the war against inflation has to continue,” Das said. “And this has to continue until we see a durable decline in inflation closer to the target.”
This week, the World Bank cut its India growth forecast to 6.3 per cent from 6.6 per cent for the financial year to March 2024, citing “slower consumption growth and challenging external conditions”.