The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has maintained its economic growth projections for the 2023-24 financial year at 6.5%. While the first two quarters are expected to deliver slightly more growth, the second half is anticipated to have a moderately slower pace of expansion compared to previous assessments. The MPC also predicts a slight decrease in retail price inflation for May and June, with projections indicating a potential flat rate compared to the 4.7% recorded in April.
Economic Growth Projections:
The MPC expects the first two quarters of the 2023-24 financial year to contribute slightly more to economic growth. However, the latter half is projected to exhibit a moderate decline in the pace of growth compared to the initial assessment made in April. Despite this adjustment, the overall economic growth projection remains unchanged at 6.5%.
Inflation Rate Forecasts:
The MPC has revised its projections for the Consumer Price Index (CPI)-based inflation rate. For the first quarter of the current financial year, the committee now forecasts an inflation rate of 4.6%, lower than the previously estimated 5.1% in the April policy. The inflation rate for April stood at 4.7%. The official figures for May are set to be released soon. The MPC has also revised down its projection for the second quarter to 5.2%, a slight decrease from the earlier estimate of 5.4%.
Retail Price Inflation for 2023-24:
Due to the revised projections for the first two quarters, the retail price inflation for the entire 2023-24 financial year has been adjusted slightly downward to 5.1% from the previous estimate of 5.2%. In comparison, the inflation rate was 6.7% in 2022-23 and 5.5% in 2021-22. The projections for the third and fourth quarters remain unchanged at 5.4% and 5.2%, respectively.
Impact of Monsoon on Agricultural Production:
The MPC based its projections on the assumption of a normal monsoon. While the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecasted a normal monsoon for most regions, it predicted below-normal rainfall for the northwest region, including important agricultural areas like Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. The MPC emphasized the need for close monitoring of the spatial and temporal distribution of the monsoon to assess its impact on agricultural production.
Crude Oil Prices and Economic Outlook:
The MPC noted that crude oil prices have eased following Saudi Arabia’s announcement of voluntary production cuts. The future of oil prices, though, is still unclear. The committee highlighted early results from the Reserve Bank’s surveys, indicating that manufacturing, services, and infrastructure firms anticipate an increase in input costs and output prices. A clearer picture will emerge when the final survey results are available.
Expectations for Economic Growth in 2023-24:
The MPC has maintained its economic growth projection of 6.5% for the 2023-24 financial year. RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das correctly anticipated higher economic growth than the Advance Estimates, with the previous year recording a growth rate of 7.2% instead of the projected 7%. It remains to be seen if the MPC’s projections for 2023-24 will hold true for the entire financial year.
Factors Influencing Economic Growth:
The MPC expects higher rabi crop production from the previous year, a normal monsoon, and sustained growth in services to support private consumption and overall economic activity in the current year. Additionally, the government’s focus on capital expenditure, moderation in commodity prices, and robust credit growth are anticipated to stimulate.