Free Press Journal

RBI policy needs to be inflation, fiscal deficit driven: SBI


New Delhi: The RBI needs to take into account the benign inflation as well as the government’s commitment on fiscal discipline next fiscal while formulating its monetary policy, SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya said today.

“RBI has to consider that (rate cut) given the fact that CPI is coming in below what they had indicated to be the glide path and given the fiscal discipline is being maintained. So definitely this is something that the RBI will be thinking about,” Bhattacharya told reporters on the sidelines of an event.

Amid much debate over whether government will be able to stick to the fiscal deficit roadmap, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had in his Budget speech yesterday said that the fiscal deficit target of 3.5 per cent for next fiscal will be adhered to.

Asked to comment about the government sticking to fiscal deficit target, she said: “I think they have done a great job.” The CPI or retail inflation stood at 5.69 per cent in January, lower than the RBI estimates of 6 per cent.

The Reserve Bank in its last policy had said it would take into consideration the fiscal deficit roadmap as well as inflation trajectory to decide on future rate cuts. The first bi-monthly monetary policy for 2016-17 is on April 5.

“The Reserve Bank continues to be accommodative even as it leaves the policy rate unchanged in this review, while awaiting further data on the development of inflation.

“Structural reforms in the forthcoming Union Budget that boost growth while controlling spending will create more space for monetary policy to support growth, while also ensuring that inflation remains on the projected path of 5 per cent by the end of 2016-17,” the RBI had said.

On capital infusion in PSU banks, Bhattacharya said, “Government has said that it (capital infusion) is an ongoing exercise. So, I think we should believe them that it is an ongoing exercise and whatever support is required they will give.”

In his Budget speech, Jaitley had favoured consolidation of public sectors banks and said the government will infuse Rs 25,000 crore capital next fiscal. However, with regard to IDBI Bank, the government intends to lower its stake to even below 50 per cent. The government currently holds 80.16 per cent in IDBI Bank.

Asked about consolidation and what the PSBs are thinking, Bhattacharya said, “PSBs can hardly think about this. It is for the owners to decide. IDBI has been mentioned because it is incorporated under Companies Act. So that makes it a little easier to handle IDBI.

“With respect to other banks there is a Bank Nationalisation Act, SBI and SBI Associate Banks Act — those acts have to be amended in case you have to bring down ownership that might be little more difficult,” she added