By Folasade Folarin
Nigeria’s Central Bank has retained the basic interest rates at 14 per cent.
Governor Godwin Emefiele in announcing the decision of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) on Tuesday also urged the Federal Government to evolve robust fiscal policies in reviving the economy from recession.
Emefiele said the committee elected to retain the current policy, which is the Monetary Policy Rate at 14 per cent, Cash Reserve Ratio at 22.5 per cent and Liquidity Ratio at 30 per cent.
The Asymmetric Window was also retained at +200 and -500 point around the Monetary Policy Rate.
Emefiele said that the Committee acknowledged the weak macroeconomic performance and the challenges confronting the economy.
He said that the MPC had consistently called attention to the implications of the absence of robust fiscal policies to complement monetary policies in the past.
“The MPC reiterated the fact that monetary policy alone cannot move the economy out of stagflation.
“The MPC considered the numerous analysis and calls for rates reduction but came to the conclusion that the greatest challenge to the economy today remains incomplete fiscal reforms which raise costs, risks and uncertainty.
“The calls came mainly from the belief that reducing interest rates will spur credit growth, in the private and public sector, which will help provide liquidity to stimulate consumption and investment spending.
“The urgency of a monetary-fiscal policy retreat along with trade and budgetary policy, to design a comprehensive intervention mechanism is long overdue,” he said.
Emefiele said the Bank had since 2009, expanded its balance sheet to bail out the financial system and support growth initiatives in the economy, even though it was the work of the fiscal policy makers to do so.
He said nevertheless, the apex bank would continue to deploy its development finance interventions to complement the overall effort of fiscal policy towards reinvigorating the economy.
“The interest rate decisions of the bank are therefore anchored on sound judgment, fundamentals and compelling arguments for such policy interventions.
“The committee also feels there is the need to continue to encourage the inflow of foreign capital into the economy by continuing to put in place incentives to gain the confidence of players in this segment of the foreign exchange market.
“Consequently the Committee considers that loosening monetary policy now is not advisable as real interest rates are negative, pressure exists on the foreign exchange market while inflation is trending upwards.”
Emefiele said that Members of the committee emphasised that improved fiscal activities, especially the active implementation of the 2016 budget, payment of salaries by states and local governments, would go a long way in contributing to economic recovery.
He said that the committee urged the fiscal authorities to consider tax incentives as stimulus on both supply and demand sides of economic activities.
Emefiele said that based on available data, the committee agreed that the month-on-month inflation which was currently at a record high of 17.6 per cent would soon begin to come down.
He said harvests had started to kick-in for most agricultural produce and should contribute to dampening consumer prices in the months ahead.
He also said that the current stance of monetary policy was expected to continue to help lock-in expectations of inflation which has started to improve with the gradual return of stability in the foreign exchange market.
In July, the committee increased the MPR by 200 basis points from 12.00 to 14 per cent, retained the CRR at 22.50 per cent and the Liquidity Ratio at 30 .00 per cent, among others.
The members said the decision was in recognising that the bank lacked the instruments required to directly jumpstart growth.
The committee was being mindful not to calibrate its instruments in such a manner as to undermine its primary mandate and financial system stability.