CBN retains key interest rate at 14%

By The Citizen
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The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rose from its two-day meeting today with a decision to retain the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 14 per cent; retain  the  cash reserve ratio (CRR) at 22.5 per cent; retain the Liquidity Ratio at 30.00 per cent; and retain the Asymmetric corridor at 200 and -500 basis points around the MPR.

In a communiqué read by Mr Godwin I. Emefiele, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria at the end of the meeting, he said the committee's unanimous decisions were shaped by the consideration of the headwinds in the domestic economy and the uncertainties in the global environment.

To arrive at the decisions, he said the Committee re-assessed the headwinds which confronted the economy in 2016 and the opportunities for recovery in 2017.

In particular, the MPC evaluated the implications of the rising wave of nationalistic ideologues across the West, the re-evaluation of trade agreements and the possibility of rapid monetary policy normalization in the United States, with adverse consequences for other countries, including Nigeria.

'The uncertainties underpinning the implementation of Brexit and the apparent retreat from globalisation and free trade were also important points of reflection,' he said.

'In recognition of the seemingly inevitable structural shift in the global economy, the Committee reiterated the need to be more inward looking and hasten efforts towards economic diversification to support the domestic economy and improve life for the Nigerian people. Consequently, members acknowledged the imperative of sectoral policies and greater coordination of monetary and fiscal policy. '

Conscious of the prevailing market sentiments in favour of a rate cut, he said the Committee reasoned that most of its decisions in 2016 were informed by the need to address the delicate balance between price stability and growth.

'Noting that the pressures on consumer prices were yet to abate and even as the economy continued to be in recession despite the intervention support by the Central Bank, the Committee stressed that it was not oblivious of the full ramifications of the economic challenges facing the country,' he said.

He said the MPC was concerned that the current situation was not amenable to simplistic analyses and quick fixes such as have found expression and increased attention at different fora and the media.

'The domestic economic challenges which include a chronically import dependent consumption culture, lack of competitiveness of many sectors of the economy and yawning infrastructural gap, have combined with an unfavourable external environment to complicate the macroeconomic policy environment.

The Monetary Authority had on many occasions, and to the extent feasible, taken extra-ordinary steps to support other policies as well as compensate for aspects of structural gaps in the economy even at the expense of its core mandate,' he said.

'The Committee specifically noted the positive contribution of agriculture to GDP in the third quarter, mostly attributable to the Bank's interventions in the sector. The Committee hopes that given the thrust of the 2017 budget and accompanying sectoral policies, output growth should resume in the short to medium term.

The MPC, therefore, lends its voice to efforts for an early finalization of the 2017 Federal Budget by the authorities concerned, and the resolve to pursue a non-oil driven economy, as these will go a long way in stimulating aggregate demand and restoring confidence in the economy. The Committee also urged the authorities to seriously consider using the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model in its infrastructure development programme as a means of cushioning any possible shocks to budgeted revenue.

'The Committee further noted that Inflationary pressures would begin to subside as non-oil output recovers and the naira exchange rate stabilizes.

'Until then, it stressed, a rate cut would worsen the inflationary conditions and undermine the current outlook for stability in the foreign exchange market.

The Committee also feels that doing so would further aggravate demand pressures while undermining existing income levels in the face of the already expansionary monetary policy and increasing inflationary pressure which will make the economy unattractive for foreign and domestic investment. Given these limitations, the Committee was reluctant to lower the policy rate on this occasion but remained committed to doing so when the conditions permit.

'From a financial stability standpoint, the Committee noted the possible impact of the inclement macroeconomic environment on banking sector resilience. The MPC urged the Management of the Bank to engage industry operators to discuss likely issues of asset quality, credit concentration and high foreign exchange exposures.

'Given the growth in money supply arising from unconventional monetary policy operations of the Bank and implications for price and exchange rate developments, the Committee is committed to moderating growth in narrow money in the 2017 fiscal year in line with the Bank's monetary growth benchmarks.'