- RBI in a surprise move hiked the benchmark lending rate to 4.40% to contain inflation
- This is the first-rate hike by the RBI since August 2018
- Commercial banks are likely to hike interest rate on all types of retail & institutional loans soon
Home Loans to be costlier: In a move that will raise EMIs of home loan and all types of retail and institutional loans, the Reserve Bank of India on Wednesday hiked the benchmark lending rate by 40 basis points to 4.40 per cent and cash reserve by 50 basis points to 4.5 per cent. The decision was announced after an unscheduled meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) led by RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das.
Das said that all six members of the MPC unanimously voted for a rate hike to contain inflation that has remained stubbornly above the target of 6 per cent for the last three months. He said that the increase in the cash reserve will suck out Rs 87,000 crore of liquidity from the banking system. The CRR hike will be effective from May 21.
The repo rate is the rate at which the central bank lends money to commercial banks while the CRR is a certain minimum amount that banks have to deposit as reserves with the central bank.
Das said that the MPC decision reversed the May 2020 interest rate cut by an equal amount. The central bank had last revised its policy repo rate or the short-term lending rate on May 22, 2020, in an off-policy cycle to perk up demand by cutting the interest rate to a historic low of 4 per cent.
RBI cites inflation worries
According to Das, that geopolitical tension is pushing inflation, adding that the "global economic recovery is losing momentum". "Shortages, volatility in commodities and financial markets are becoming more acute," he said.
This is the first-rate hike since August 2018 and the first instance of the MPC making an unscheduled increase in the repo rate. The next meeting of the MPC is scheduled during June 6-8.
"Several central banks has already started policy tightening to curb the inflation. Today's rate hike is aimed at containing inflation and re-anchoring inflation expectations," Ravi Singh, Vice President and Head of Research at ShareIndia, said.
"It is not very surprising that the RBI has increased the repo rate. Inflation has reached 6.95% and it is likely that the government will rein in liquidity. The silver lining is that the Indian economy is on a strong footing and most the agencies have predicted a promising growth rate in the range of 8-9% in the current fiscal," Subhash Goel, MD- Goel Ganga Developments, said.
Notably, the State Bank of India and HDFC have already hiked their interest rate marginally. While the SBI last month increased the Marginal Cost of Lending Rate (MCLR) on all types of retail and institutional loans by 10 basis points, the private lender hiked the Retail Prime Lending Rate (RPLR) on housing loans by 5 basis points. One basis point is equivalent to a hundredth of a percentage point.
Impact of real estate
Speaking about the impact of the RBI's decision on the real estate sector, Rajat Goel, JMD, MRG World, said that the immediate impact would be an increase in home loan rates and input costs but "it won't make much of a difference because of the robust resurgence seen over the last several months".
"This urgent move will be helpful in relieving the inflation challenges. There is no denying that there will be a rise in property prices but it will be soon balanced off because the market is strong and resilient," Nayan Raheja, Raheja Developers, said.
"The hike will check inflation and strengthen the growth-oriented motives of the country. The real estate industry is well-positioned to manage any hike and was quite frankly expecting it as well to tackle the tight inflation," Vikas Wadhawan, Group CFO, Housing.com, PropTiger.com & Makaan.com, said.