Tue, Jul 30, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Indian minister presses central bank for rate cut

‘GOOD FOR THE COUNTRY’:Comments from Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman add to pressure on India’s central bank governor after three interest rate cuts this year

Bloomberg

Indian Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman has said the central bank should deliver “significant” interest rate cuts to spur economic growth, the Economic Times reported, citing an interview with her.

Speaking ahead of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) policy decision on Wednesday next week, Sitharaman said “I’ll honestly wish” for more easing, and that “a significant rate cut would do a lot of good for the country.”

Her comments add to pressure on RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das to follow through with more easing after three interest rate cuts this year.

He signaled a more cautious stance in a recent interview, saying incoming data would determine the RBI’s policy action.

He also said the change in the policy stance to “accommodative” was in itself a quarter-point of easing.

Ministry spokesman D.S. Malik did not immediately respond to a telephone call and e-mail seeking a response.

Sitharaman also told the newspaper that she has not been asked to review plans to sell an international bond.

Local reports last week cast doubt over the debt sale, with some suggesting that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in favor of selling rupee-denominated bonds to overseas investors instead of foreign-currency debt.

Sovereign bonds rallied yesterday, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year security dropping nine basis points to 6.43 percent.

While the minister acknowledged the Monetary Policy Committee’s 75 basis points of cuts so far this year and the switch to an easing stance, she suggested there is still more room to move.

“We will now have to look at that route with a lot more hope,” Economic Times quoted her as saying. “The industry also feels there is space for it.”

Latest economic data show that inflation has remained under the 4 percent medium-term target of the RBI for 11 straight months, while economic growth has slowed to a five-year low of 5.8 percent in the first three months of this year.

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