Nigeria Holds Interest Rate Steady at 13.5%

The Central Bank of Nigeria left its benchmark interest rate steady at 13.5% on May 21st 2019, as widely expected, following a surprise 0.5 percentage point cut at the previous meeting. The decision came as headline inflation edged up to 11.37% in April from 11.25% in the prior month, moving further above the bank's target range of 6%-9%. Policymakers also mentioned that growth remains fragile as economy expanded only 2.01% in Q1 2019 compared to 2.38% in the prior quarter, amid a slump in the country's oil sector.

Excerpts from the Statement by the Central Bank of Nigeria:

Available output data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 2.01 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 compared with 2.38 and 1.89 per cent in the previous and corresponding quarters of 2018, respectively. This was largely driven by the non-oil sector, which grew by 2.47 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 while the oil sector contracted by 2.40 per cent. Staff projections indicate real GDP growth of 2.34 and 2.36 per cent in Q2 2019 and Q3 2019, respectively, including a reduction in the unemployment rate. The Monetary Policy Committee observed that actual output remains below potential, implying that the economy still had sufficient headroom for non-inflationary growth. This is expected to be driven largely by sustained stability in the financial system; continued special interventions in Agriculture, manufacturing and SMEs sectors, by the Bank; sustained effort in improving transport infrastructure to address distribution challenges; continued expansion of business activities as indicated by the PMI and increased supply of foreign exchange to growth-stimulating sectors of the economy, among others.

The Committee noted the growth in broad money supply (M3) by 5.42 per cent in April 2019 from the level at end-December 2018, annualized to 16.36 per cent, above the indicative benchmark rate of 14.47 per cent for 2019. This was largely driven by the growth of 19.62 per cent in Net Domestic Assets (NDA). In contrast, Net Foreign Assets (NFA) contracted by 5.83 per cent in April 2019 relative to the level at end-December 2018. In spite of the significant underperformance of M1 at -4.26 per cent annualised to -12.77 per cent, M2 grew by 1.85 per cent in April 2019, annualized to 5.54 per cent, which was significantly below the benchmark rate of 12.99 per cent for 2019. This development was largely due to the growth in time and savings deposits by 6.53 per cent. The Net Domestic Credit (NDC) grew by 19.31 per cent in April 2019 from the level at end-December 2018, annualized to 57.92 per cent, above its indicative benchmark of 11.82 per cent. The growth in NDC was attributed to the significant increase in credit to both government and the private sector by 64.44 and 9.64 per cent, respectively, in April 2019, compared with end-December 2018. The Committee noted the developments in the monetary aggregates and enjoined the Bank to initiate moves towards improving lending to the private sector and urged other intermediary institutions in the financial sector to support these initiatives by improving their credit delivery to boost output growth.

The Committee noted the uptick in inflation as headline inflation (year-onyear) rose slightly to 11.37 per cent in April 2019 from 11.25 per cent in March 2019. The increase in headline inflation was driven mainly by food inflation which rose by 13.70 per cent in April 2019 from 13.45 per cent in March 2019. Core inflation, however, declined marginally to 9.28 per cent in April from 9.46 per cent in March 2019. In April 2019, month-on-month headline, food and core inflation increased to 0.94, 1.14 and 0.70 per cent from 0.79, 0.88 and 0.53 per cent in March 2019, respectively. The MPC noted that the recent uptick in inflationary pressure was seasonally driven and anticipated.

Nigeria Holds Interest Rate Steady at 13.5%

Central Bank of Nigeria | Luisa Carvalho |
5/21/2019 4:17:52 PM