Inflation in India is expected to cool from October, minimising the need for aggressive central bank action, governor Shaktikanta Das has said.
“Our current assessment is that inflation may ease gradually in the second half of 2022-23, precluding the chances of a hard landing,” he said at an economic conclave in New Delhi on Saturday.
Central banks worldwide are grappling with worse-than-anticipated inflation driven by supply-chain disruptions, surging commodity prices, and fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In India, the pace of price gains has stayed above the RBI’s 6 per cent upper tolerance level since the start of the year, forcing it to raise rates by 90 basis points in the last two months.
“Our endeavour has been to ensure a soft landing,” Mr Das said. The supply outlook appears favourable, with several high-frequency indicators pointing to a resilience of the recovery in the April-June quarter of 2022-23, he added.
The governor’s outlook may spur expectations of revisions in coming policy updates. In June, the bank said inflation was expected to average 6.7 per cent in the year to March, and while prices will start to cool from the second half, starting in October, the mandate could be met only in the January-March quarter.
Downside risks to inflation are materialising with a cooling of commodity prices, and the RBI’s inflation forecast may be revised down, said Rahul Bajoria, India economist at Barclays. He expects inflation at 6.5 per cent for the fiscal year ending March, against the RBI’s current 6.7 per cent projection.
The impact of global factors on domestic inflation has increased over the past three years because of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the governor said.
Over this period, India has experienced a “more protracted and sizeable role of global factors in proportions not witnessed in decades,” he said. These have “an even more conspicuous effect on net commodity-importing countries like India.”