The liquidity ratio was left at 30 percent and the asymmetric corridor remained steady at +200 basis points and -700 basis points, around the key policy rate.
Excerpts from the Statement by the Central Bank of Nigeria:
The economy is expected to continue on its growth path in the first quarter 2016, albeit less robust than in the corresponding period of 2015. This expectation is predicated on the current low global oil price trend which is projected to hold low over the medium-to long term, and with attendant implications for government revenue and foreign exchange earnings. Other downside risks to growth in 2016 include: capital flow reversal, high lending rates, sluggish credit to private sector and bearish trends in the equities market. However, the Committee remains optimistic about a gradual recovery in economic activity due to notable improvements in power and supply of refined petroleum products, improved policy recalibration aimed at improving the flow of financing resources to the real sector and suppression of internal insurgencies, which will boost general agricultural activity.
The Committee noted the ongoing activities in the informal segment of the foreign exchange market, which led to the stoppage of dollar sales to BDCs, even as the average naira exchange rate remained relatively stable at the inter-bank segment during the review period. The Committee underscored the necessity of improving the supply of foreign exchange to the market, especially from autonomous sources. It also reiterated its commitment to maintaining stability in the naira exchange rate.
The Committee also believes that the effect of the softer monetary policy stance adopted at the last MPC, should start crystalizing soon through expansion of credit to critical sectors of the economy. In addition, the unveiling of the Federal budget, oriented towards socio-economic and infrastructural development is expected to provide the necessary impetus for growth.
The Committee acknowledged the continuous liquidity surfeit in the system stemming partly from the recent growth-stimulating monetary policy measures, as well as the tendency of the banks to invest excess reserves in government securities, rather than extend credit to the needed sectors of the economy. To this end, the Committee once again urged the deposit money banks to improve lending to the real sector, as part of their patriotic obligations to the country and enjoined the Management of the Bank to continue to explore ways of incentivizing lending to employment- and growth-generating sectors, particularly SMEs.