Nigeria Hikes Key Rate to 14% in July

The central bank of Nigeria raised its benchmark interest rate by 200 bps to 14 percent at its July 2016 meeting. It was the second rate hike so far this year, after the central bank abandoned the currency peg to the dollar in June. Since then, the naira plunged more than 55 percent to an all time low. In addition, the inflation rate kept its upward trend and reached 16.5 percent in June, the highest since 2005.

Excerpts from the Statement by the Central Bank of Nigeria:

The MPC recognized the weak macroeconomic environment, as reflected particularly in increasing inflationary pressure and contraction in real output growth. In view of this, the MPC underscored the imperative of coordinated action, anchored by fiscal policy, to initiate recovery at the earliest time. Members called on the Federal Government to fast-track the implementation of the 2016 budget in order to stimulate economic activity to bridge the output gap and create employment. In the same vein, the MPC expressed concern over the non-payment of salaries in some states and urged express action in that direction to help stimulate aggregate demand. 

The MPC noted the actions taken by the Bank as part of the implementation of the flexible foreign exchange regime  decided at its meeting in May which was designed to improve liquidity and stabilize the foreign exchange market. The Bank introduced a flexible exchange rate regime in the inter-bank market; introduced a Naira-settled OTC-FMDQ-OTC trading platform, adopted two-way quote trading platform at the inter-bank foreign exchange market and appointed foreign exchange primary dealers. However, the average naira exchange rate weakened at the inter-bank segment of the foreign exchange market during the review period following the liberalization of the market. The exchange rate at the interbank market opened at N197.00/US$ and closed at  292.90/US$, with a daily average of N244.95/US$ between May 25 and July 19, 2016. 

The MPC expressed strong support for the urgent diversification of the economy away from oil to manufacturing, agriculture and services; and called on all stakeholders to increase investment in growth stimulating and high employment elasticity sectors of the economy in order to lift the economy out of its current phase

The MPC in putting forward for tightening considered the high inflationary trend which has culminated into negative real interest rates in the economy; noting that this was discouraging to savings. Members also noted that the negative real interest rates did not support the recent flexible foreign exchange market as foreign investors attitude had remained lukewarm, showing unwillingness in bringing in new capital under the circumstance. Members further noted that there existed a substantial amount of international capital in negative yielding investments globally and Nigeria stood a chance of attracting such investments with sound macroeconomic policies. Consequently, members were of the view that an upward adjustment in interest rates would strongly signal not only the Bank’s commitment to price stability but also its desire reference band to gradually achieve positive real interest rates. 

In summary, the MPC voted to:

(i) Increase the MPR by 200 basis points from 12.00 to 14 per cent;
(ii) Retain the CRR at 22.50 per cent;
(iii) Retain the Liquidity Ratio at 30.00 per cent; and
(iv) Retain the Asymmetric Window at +200 and -500 basis points around the MPR

Central Bank of Nigeria | Mojdeh Kazemi |
7/26/2016 6:22:04 PM