MUMBAI, May 3 (Reuters) - India's central bank cut its
policy interest rate by 25 basis points on Friday for the third
time since January, as expected, as growth slows and inflation
ebbs, but said there is little room to ease monetary policy
The Reserve Bank of India trimmed the repo rate
to 7.25 percent, its lowest since May 2011, and kept the cash
reserve ratio (CRR) for banks unchanged at 4
percent, also in line with expectations.
However, it warned that the risk of inflationary pressure
persists despite a recent sharp decline in wholesale price index
(WPI) inflation, and said a high current account
deficit poses the biggest risk "by far" to the Indian economy.
"The balance of risks stemming from the Reserve Bank's
assessment of the growth-inflation dynamic yields little space
for further monetary easing," the RBI wrote in its policy
Some in the market had been hoping for more aggressive
policy easing action and a less hawkish tone from RBI Governor
Duvvuri Subbarao as India grapples with economic growth that
slowed to about 5 percent in the fiscal year that ended in
March, its weakest in a decade.
India's headline inflation in March fell to its lowest in
more than three years at 5.96 percent, but the consumer price
index remained elevated at 10.39 percent.
The current account deficit swelled to a record 6.7 percent
of GDP in the December quarter. While it is expected to ease on
lower global commodity prices and a rise in exports, it is on
track to remain well above the 2.5 percent level that is seen as
"Should global liquidity conditions rapidly tighten, India
could potentially face a problem of sudden stop and reversal of
capital flows jeopardising our macro-financial stability," it
The central bank said it expects the economy to grow at 5.7
percent in the fiscal year that started in April, and projected
headline WPI inflation at around 5.5 percent during the year.
It said its intention is to lower WPI inflation to 5 percent
by March 2014 "using all instruments at its command."
The RBI once again urged the government to take measures to
ease supply constraints in the economy and encourage investment.
"Without policy efforts to unlock the tightening supply
constraints and bring enduring improvements in productivity and
competitiveness, growth could weaken even further and
inflationary strains could re-emerge," it said.
(Reporting by Tony Munroe and Suvashree Dey Choudhury)