Homebuyers, realty sector to benefit from RBI’s repo rate cut

Repo rate is the interest banks pay when they borrow money from the RBI to meet their short-term fund requirements.

mumbai Updated: Oct 05, 2016 08:16 IST
Naresh Kamath
Naresh Kamath
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Real estate,RBI
Experts said the move will have a positive impact on the realty sector(HT File Photo)

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut a key lending rate to a six-year low in a surprise move on Tuesday, raising hopes of cheaper home loans and EMIs that could fire demand ahead of the festive season.

The decision to slash the repo rate — the rate at which banks borrow from the central bank — to 6.25% from 6.50% was the first by the newly-formed Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) headed by RBI governor Urjit Patel, who took over from Raghuram Rajan on September 6.

The RBI — which said all six members voted in favour of the cut — cited falling inflation as the reason for the move, surprising markets that were widely expecting a status quo.

“On the whole, this is a decision which will go down well with all sections of the economy,” Union finance secretary Ashok Lavasa said in Delhi.

Banks are expected to pass on the rate cut benefits to their customers by offering home and vehicle loans at cheaper rates. The EMIs — equated monthly installments — of existing customers are also likely to come down.

The central bank has reduced the key interest rate by 150 basis points since January 2015, but banks — saddled with bad loans totaling billions of dollars — have been reluctant to pass on the entire benefits to consumers.

“The committee’s decision… was on expected lines… Banks will continue to transmit rates based on evolving liquidity scenario,” said Arundhati Bhattacharya, chairperson of SBI, India’s largest bank.

Along with the unexpected rate cut, analysts feel, a massive payout for government employees will leave extra cash in people’s pocket at the beginning of the festive season.

Retail inflation eased to a fivemonth low of 5.05% in August, within the committee’s 2-6% objective, and is expected to ease further in the months ahead after a good monsoon has sent food prices sharply lower, the bank said.

High inflation hurts people’s buying power, while low levels can indicate poor demand and weak economic activity. The government has also been pushing for cuts in the repo rate to spur economic growth.

Patel credited the government for actions that had helped reduce structural constraints on supply that typically drive up inflation in India, including through investments in railways and roads.

“The proactive food management has played a crucial role in the past two years and will continue to play a crucial role in time to come,” he said in his first public engagement since taking over as the RBI governor. The central bank, however, warned of risks to growth next year due to muted private investments and weak global demand coupled with geopolitical risks.

“The inflation outlook for 201617 has improved, but close vigilance is required to achieve the prospects of reaching 4 per cent. Robust consumption brightens the outlook for real gross value added growth in 2016-17, but muted private investment and weak global demand may restrain the pace of growth in 2017-18,” the bank said in its monetary policy report.

First Published: Oct 05, 2016 07:49 IST