Loan moratorium extended, repo rate cut: RBI’s fresh virus-fighting boost in 10 points

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NEW DELHI: Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Friday announced a fresh set of measures in the wake of the coronavirus crisis in the country and shared details about the country’s growth outlook.

In a press conference held this morning, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said the country’s growth has been impacted severely by the prolonged lockdown due to rising Covid-19 infections, adding that GDP growth may be negative for the entire year with mild recover in the second half.

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Das also said members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to further reduce the repo rate to 4 per cent after 40 basis point cut. The repo rate before today’s cut was 4.4 per cent.

He also announced several other measures to ease pressure on citizens and companies, who have been hit hard by the lockdown.

Here is a summary of Das’s press conference in 10 points:

1) The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has cut repo rate by 40 basis points to 4 per cent as it aims to lower lending rates for cash-strapped borrowers. The reduced reverse repo rate now stands at 3.35 per cent.

2) The central bank’s MPC voted 5:1 in favour of slashing the repo rate by 40 basis points while maintaining an accommodative stance. Das said the RBI would keep supporting the economy till it recovers.

3) Das spoke at length about the impact of the deadly virus on the global economy, which is facing the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. India, too, is expected to record negative growth in 2021, said the RBI governor.

4) He, however, said that there is a small “ray of hope” for India in the form of good yields during the Rabi harvesting season. The prediction of a normal monsoon in India also provides fresh hope of recovery.

5) He then spoke about how private consumption has been hit hard due to the coronavirus pandemic and that investment demand has halted. He also added that government revenues have been severely impacted by the pandemic. It may be noted that that the government recently announced a Rs 20 lakh crore economic package to revive the cash-starved economy.

6) Das also shared some key data to showcase how Covid-19 has impacted the Indian economy. He said industrial production in India shrank by close to 17 per cent in March while manufacturing activity contracted by 21 per cent. He also said that the output of core industries has contracted by 6.5 per cent.

7) Another good sign for the Indian economy, as mentioned by Governor Das, is the fact that foreign reserves have increased and India has $487 in foreign exchange reserves as of May 15.

8) Shaktikanta Das that announced broad relief measures packed in four categories which are aimed at improving domestic stock market performance, supporting exports and imports, giving relief on debt servicing and better access to working capital and also to ease financial constraints faced by state governments.

9) RBI has also announced a three-month extension of the moratorium on term loans till August 31. Das said the decision was taken on account of continued disruption caused by Covid-19 lockdown to help citizens and companies.

10) Lastly, the RBI governor assured that the central bank will keep supporting the Indian economy throughout the recovery process. It said even more policy measures will be introduced if the inflation outlook is back within their target zone of four per cent by the third quarter of the current financial year.