Nigeria Raises Key Rate to 12%

The central bank of Nigeria unexpectedly hiked its benchmark interest rate by 100 bps to 12 percent at its March 22nd meeting, aiming to curb rising inflation which in February hit double digit of 11.4 percent. The inflation rate has been above the central bank’s target band of 6 to 9 percent since June last year. The central bank last increased the key rate by 100 bps to 13 percent in November of 2014 but in November last year cut it to 11 percent. Policymakers also raised its cash reserve ratio by 250 bps to 22.5 percent and retained the liquidity ratio at 30 percent.

Excerpts from the Statement by the Central Bank of Nigeria: 

The Committee noted the weakening macroeconomic environment, reflected particularly in foreign exchange shortages, slowing GDP growth rate and rising inflation. Overall economic growth slowed significantly in 2015, particularly in Q4. Apparently, the conditions responsible for the slowdown – uncertainty around fiscal policy, adverse external environment, security challenges in some parts of the country affecting production and distribution of agricultural produce, low electricity supply, fuel shortages, and sluggish growth in credit to the private sector – have continued in the first quarter of 2016.

On the monetary front, contrary to the notion of liquidity overhang in the financial system, the wider economy appears starved of the needed liquidity to spur growth and employment. Recent performance of the monetary aggregates lends credence to this fact. With the exception of credit to government, growth in all the monetary aggregates remained largely below their indicative benchmarks, yet; headline inflation spiked to 11.38 per cent in February 2016, substantially breaching the policy reference band of 6 - 9 per cent. Apparently, the increase in inflation was driven not so much by liquidity, but by structural factors such as fuel scarcity, increased electricity tariff, persistent insecurity, exchange rate pass through and seasonality of agricultural produce. The conflicting signals from slowing growth and rising inflation present a difficult policy challenge. Though mindful of the limitations of monetary policy in influencing the drivers of the current price spiral, the Committee stressed the need to urgently address the key sources of the pressures. In this regard, the Committee reaffirmed its commitment to closely monitor the development while working with relevant authorities to address the structural bottlenecks.

The Committee also enjoined the relevant agencies to speed up passage of the 2016 Budget in order to halt the  depressing effect of the uncertainty that engulfs the waiting period, hoping that the implementation of the budget would go a long way in boosting business confidence, and reinvigorating the financial markets. In the circumstance, the Committee urged the Bank to continue to upscale its surveillance of the financial system with the aim of promptly detecting and managing vulnerabilities to ensure sustained stability. 

The Committee, in its assessment of relevant internal and external indices, came to the conclusion that the balance of risks is tilted against price stability.The MPC therefore, voted to tighten the stance of monetary policy. One member voted to retain the CRR at 20.00 per cent while another member voted to retain the current width of the asymmetric corridor.

In summary, the MPC voted to:
(i) raise MPR by 100 basis points from 11.00 per cent to 12.00 per cent;
(ii) Raise CRR by 250 basis points from 20.00 to 22.50 percent;
(iii) retain Liquidity Ratio at 30.00 per cent;
(iv) Narrow the asymmetric corridor from +200 and -700 basis points to +200 and -500 basis points.

Nigeria Raises Key Rate to 12%

Central Bank Nigeria | Mojdeh Kazemi |
3/22/2016 6:16:58 PM