October 25, 2014 / 6:48 AM / 3 years ago

India's finance minister favors interest rate cut: paper

Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley (C) arrives to attend a meeting with the finance ministers of states on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) issues in New Delhi July 3, 2014. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley favors a cut in interest rates to trigger demand in the construction sector, a newspaper report said on Saturday, but the central bank has signal it will not ease policy until it is confident of lower inflation.

In May, Prime Minister Modi was elected on promises that his government would create jobs and rejuvenate the Indian economy, but experts were disappointed by Jaitley’s first budget and a lack of early progress on fixing structural economic problems.

“Currently, interest rates are a disincentive. Now that inflation seems to be stabilizing somewhat, the time seems to have come to moderate the interest rates,” Jaitley said in an interview with the Times of India.

Last month, the Reserve Bank of India, sent a strong signal that it would refrain from cutting interest rates until the central bank was confident that consumer inflation can be cut to a target of 6 percent by January 2016.

India’s retail inflation eased for a second straight month in September, but the risks of price shocks from weak monsoon rains and oil are expected to prevent the central bank from cutting interest rates soon.

Consumer prices INCPIY=ECI rose a slower-than-expected 6.46 percent from a year earlier, the lowest since figures were first published in January 2012.

Reporting by Ratnajyoti Dutta and Manoj Kumar; Editing by Michael Perry

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