RSS blames RBI for economic slowdown, defends Modi govt policies

Swadeshi Jagran Manch, the economic wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has hit out at the Reserve Bank of India for not lowering rate of interest

RSS blames RBI for economic slowdown, defends Modi govt policies

NH Web Desk & Anjali Das/IANS

Swadeshi Jagran Manch, the economic wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has hit out at the Reserve Bank of India for not lowering rate of interest even when the inflation is down to 2%, holding it responsible for the current slowdown in the economy.

"The RBI has been the major reason for the slowdown. The Monetary Policy Committee of the RBI has been working on the wrong model and faulty framework. All over the world the rates of interest come down as inflation comes down, but in India it does not happen," said Aswini Mahajan, head of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch.

"When the rate of inflation was 10-12%, the repo rate was 8.5% even then. Now the inflation has come down to 2%, the repo rate is 5.75%," he added.

However, according to market watchers, inflation is not the only indicator for cutting down interest rates. The RBI looks at production, market demand and liquidity to decide on interest rates. With a slowing down demand resulting in less production, it will be disastrous to slash interest rates.

The quarterly results of many companies have indicated that most companies jave posted a loss in their revenue. If the RBI cuts down interest rates, this will also slash interest rates on deposits which is harmful for the economy currently.

Ratings agency CRISIL on Thursday cut India's GDP growth to 6.9% for FY20 on weak monsoon rains and muted corporate results. In its monetary policy review on June 6, 2019, the Reserve Bank of India lowered its 2019-20 growth projections to 7 per cent, from 7.2% estimated in April.

The central bank expects India's GDP to grow at 6.4-6.7% in April-September and 7.2-7.5% in October-March 2019-20.

Slowdown signs were visible since last year, with GDP growing 6.6% in October-December 2018. GDP growth slipped to 5.8% in the last quarter of 2018-19 and annual GDP at 5-year low of 6.8%.

The RBI will hold its Monetary Policy Committee meeting for rate of interest on August 5-7.

"Lowering the interest rate is always an important policy variable. It would impact housing, automobile, demand and investment. A slight 1 per cent decline in interest rate can give a boost to the economy. During AB Vajpayee's tenure, demand was high because repo rate had come down to 5% giving the leeway to banks to withdraw more money from RBI to lend but in the whole NDA period (2014-19), the RBI missed that opportunity to give a boost to the economy in the garb maintaining the priceline and checking the inflation," said Mahajan.

"There was reason to reduce it and every time they said though inflation was down, it could go up in future so therefore we would not like to reduce repo rate. This had a tremendous impact on the economy. Such opportunities of lower inflation do not come quite often," Mahajan said.

"Because of that fact the the economy could have been boosted by the good policies of the RBI, which was in a love-hate relationship with the government, that was a very sad state of affairs. Monetary and fiscal policy go hand-in-hand. If monetary policy makers think they live in their niche, that is not correct," he said.

"They have to work in sync with the government. Earlier the RBI officials were living in their own niche and were making statements outside, which affected the overall image of the economy. When Viral Acharya is saying our country is going the Argentina way, what message are you giving? These people should have been sacked then and there," Mahajan said.

Viral Acharya resigned from RBI last month citing personal reasons and is back in the US.

The RBI managment of that time had major shortcomings which failed to provide the necessary boost to the economy, Mahajan said.

Raghuraman Rajan and Urijit Patel were the RBI Governors during 2014-19.

Mahajan said GST is a new application in the economy and it is good for the system, but it had its share of glitches. However, in the last two years of GST, the government is quite prudent in its approach such as reducing the burden of compliances, rates and addressing concerns of the small traders. Even this had a price though it is gradually coming to settle down, he said.

That (the GST's initial teething issues) impacted the revenue of the government. GST revenues have not been to the expected level. There was a gap of Rs 70,000-Rs 80,000 crore in GST revenue last fiscal, he said.

According to Mahajan, the other point is Indian economy is bank-based. In the last few years because of the NPA problem, some banks stopped lending and NPA problem was caused by sudden spurt in lendings during the UPA rule. Because of that the health of the banking system got impacted and many of the banks came to a phase where no more lendings could be made. Now NPAs have started coming down and banks can be asked to start lending, he added.

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