Mumbai– The Reserve Bank of India’s monetary policy committee is expected to retain key lending rates during the upcoming monetary policy review even as inflationary pressures continue to build-up.

The MPC will review the monetary policy in its meeting during April 6-8.

Accordingly, economists and industry experts cited the MPC’s strategic focus on growth as a key consideration to hold on rates.

Nonetheless, the central bank’s MPC might do away with the accommodative stance in an indication of future rate hikes.

Lately, high crude oil and commodity costs have started to reflect in retail prices.

The official gauge of retail inflation — CPI — has been printing above the MPC’s upper threshold of 6 per cent in January and February 2022.

“We expect a status-quo to be maintained in rates during the April’s review, however, MPC’s commentary is expected to be less dovish, preparing the ground for an imminent stance change,” ICRA Chief Economist Aditi Nayar said.

“We expect the monetary policy stance to be changed to neutral in June 2022, accompanied by a hike in the reverse repo rate, narrowing the corridor. Subsequently, we expect a shallow rate hike cycle, with two repo hikes of 25 bps each in August-September 2022.”

At present, the MPC of the central bank has maintained the repo rate, or short-term lending rate, for commercial banks, at 4 per cent.

Besides, the reverse repo rate was kept unchanged at 3.35 per cent.

“We remain watchful of inflation push-and-pull factors and their impact on MPC’s reaction function, which we think will be in a wait-and-watch mode until H1FY23,” Emkay Global Financial Services Lead Economist Madhavi Arora said.

Last month, official data showed that higher cost of food items, as well as manufactured goods like clothing and footwear, kept India’s February 2022 retail inflation above the six-per cent-mark on a sequential as well as on a year-on-year basis.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose to 6.07 per cent in February from 6.01 per cent in January 2022.

According to Suman Chowdhury, Chief Analytical Officer at Acute Ratings: “Given the growth headwinds generated from the Russia-Ukraine conflict, we expect the MPC to continue with the accommodative stance in the near term.”

“There is also a low likelihood of any revision in the reverse repo rates although short term interest rates have already seen a material increase since the last MPC meeting in Feb-22.”

In addition, Chowdhury expects a significant revision in the headline inflation forecast for FY23 which has been previously pegged by MPC at 4.5 per cent, since crude oil and other commodity prices have risen over the last two months. (IANS)