RBI’s $91 Billion Bond Buying Makes Fight Against Inflation Challenging

The biggest critic of India’s $100 billion budget deficit is also one of the largest purchasers of the debt that finances it: the central bank.

The Reserve Bank of India faults government expenditure for stoking inflation even as its sovereign-bond holdings have risen to $91 billion from negligible amounts in 2008. While it has a mandate for price stability — like counterparts in the U.S., Europe and Japan — the RBI has another charge its peers lack: ensuring the government achieves its borrowing program.

The RBI’s ability to damp the cost of living may be further curtailed by record government borrowing and spending next fiscal year, stoking demand and prices in an economy facing supply constraints. The inflation threat adds pressure on India to join nations from the U.S. to Brazil in separating debt management from inflation control. A bill to do so has been sent for cabinet approval, two Finance Ministry officials said.


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