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exercise downward pressure on inflation, and the process will be aided as supply side constraints, especially relating to food and infrastructure, ease. However, the current assessment is that in the absence of an appropriate policy response, WPI inflation will be higher than initially projected over the rest of the year. What is equally worrisome is that inflation at the retail level, measured by the CPI, has been high for a number of years, entrenching inflation expectations at elevated levels and eroding consumer and business confidence. Although better prospects of a robust kharif harvest will lead to some moderation in CPI inflation, there is no room for complacency.
5. Turning to the external sector, weakening domestic saving, subdued export demand and the rising value of oil imports - most recently due to geopolitical risks emanating from the Middle East - have led to a larger current account deficit (CAD). Concerns about funding the CAD, amplified by capital outflows precipitated by anticipated tapering of asset purchases by the US Federal Reserve, increased volatility in the foreign exchange market. More recently, as these concerns have been mitigated after steps taken by the Government and the Reserve Bank to contain the CAD and improve the environment for external financing, the focus has turned to internal determinants of the value of the rupee, primarily the fiscal deficit and domestic inflation.
Policy Stance and Rationale
6. Since mid-July, the Reserve Bank has put in place a number of exceptional measures to tighten liquidity with a view to dampening volatility in the foreign exchange market. These measures have raised the effective policy rate for monetary policy operations to 10.25 per cent, aligned to the re-calibrated MSF rate. The intent has been to maintain tight liquidity conditions at the short end of the term structure until the measures designed to alter the path of the CAD and improve prospects for its stable funding take effect. As a number of these measures are now in place and because the external environment has improved, it is now possible for the Reserve Bank to contemplate easing these exceptional measures in a calibrated manner. As a first step, therefore, the MSF rate is reduced by 75 basis points. Furthermore, the minimum daily maintenance of the CRR prescribed by the Reserve Bank is brought down from 99 per cent of the requirement to 95 per cent. The timing and direction of further actions on exceptional measures