Nigeria Leaves Key Rate Unchanged at 14%


The central bank of Nigeria hold its benchmark interest rate steady at 14 percent at its November 2016 meeting, in an attempt to control the inflationary pressure amid foreign exchange scarcity. The inflation rate hit a fresh eleven-year high of 18.3 percent in October and the economy contracted for the third straight quarter in three months to September of 2016 due to lower prices of oil.

Excerpts from the Statement by the Central Bank of Nigeria:

The Committee assessed the fragile macroeconomic conditions and the strong headwinds confronting the economy. In particular, the Committee considered the implications of the twin deficits of current account and budget deficits, the rise of nationalist sentiments across the West and implications for national elections in France and Germany as well as the forthcoming referendum in Italy. Other considerations include the yet to be unveiled long term uncertainties of Brexit and expectations of significant shifts in US economic policy. The Committee reaffirmed the urgency of prioritizing the diversification of the economy given the emerging gloomy protectionist outlook of the global economy. 

The Committee also evaluated the impact of its July and September 2016 actions on the macroeconomy noting that while foreign exchange inflows into the economy had improved significantly in July and August, it declined after the September MPC meeting, leading to rising inflation and increasing negative real interest rates. However, outflows significantly dropped, lending credence to the propriety of the decisions of the July and September MPC meetings. 

The MPC believes that the Security agencies should sustain their checks on the activities of illegal foreign exchange operators in order to bring sanity to that segment of the market. The Committee reiterated that the extant foreign exchange regulation outlaws the trafficking of currency on the streets as some unlicensed operators currently do. Thus, to evolve an appropriate naira exchange rate that stabilizes the foreign exchange market, BDC operators must strictly observe the terms and conditions of their license. 

Available data and forecasts of key economic variables indicate that the outlook for growth and inflation in the medium term continues to be challenging. Growth is expected to remain less robust given the absence of sufficient fiscal space while the current tight stance of monetary policy and improved agricultural harvests are expected to contain further price increases and moderate price expectations as the trend has already revealed. 

The Committee assessed the relevant risks to the global and domestic economy and concluded that the risks to the economy remained highly elevated on two fronts (price and output). However, considering the importance of price stability, and being mindful of the limitations of monetary policy in influencing output and employment under conditions of stagflation, the Committee decided unanimously in favour of retaining the current stance of monetary policy, thus keeping the MPR at 14.0 per cent alongside all other policy parameters. 

In summary, all 10 MPC members voted to:

(i) Retain the MPR at 14 per cent;
(ii) Retain the CRR at 22.5 per cent;
(iii) Retain the Liquidity Ratio at 30.00 per cent;
(iv) Retain the Asymmetric Window at +200 and -500 basis points around the MPR.

Central Bank of Nigeria | Mojdeh Kazemi | mojdeh@tradingeconomics.com
11/22/2016 3:14:18 PM