Non passage of 2018 budget fuels MPR retention says Experts

Some financial experts have attributed the retention of the Monetary Policy Ratio (MPR) at 14 per cent by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to non passage of the 2018 budget.

The experts who spoke on Wednesday in Lagos, noted that the absence of a fiscal policy direction in the economy was inevitable for the CBN to decide otherwise.

Reports state that the MPC rose from its first meeting in 2018, retaining the benchmark interest rate at 14 per cent, the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 22.5 per cent and the liquidity ratio at 30 per cent.

Also, the Asymmetric window was left at +200 and -500 basis points around the MPR.

Professor Sheriffdeen Tella, a Senior Economist at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun said holding the MPR at 14 per cent was in the right direction, considering the non passage of the 2018 budget.

Tella said that the build up to the general elections demands huge spending by politicians, adding that the CBN was careful not to allow excess liquidity in the economy to erode the gains of controlling inflation.

According to him, the apex bank need to watch the political behaviour and spending of politicians between now and June before contemplating any easing on the MPR as the nation’s fiscal policy is still shrouded in uncertainties.

The financial expert argued that the CBN had not foreclosed the notion of easing the MPR, adding that an early passage of the budget and improved key fundamentals of the economy, a rate cut should be considered.

The Don, however, explained that the economy was yearning for a rate cut to stimulate its productive sector, and allow for the expansion of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Similarly, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, the President, Association of Bureaux Des Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), said that rate retention was a momentary response to the political and security challenges in the nation’s political economy.

Gwadabe said that the apex bank was very cautious in its decision, considering the uncertainties in the nations’ fiscal policy arising from the non passage of the 2018 budget.

The ABCON chief, however, noted that a rate cut would bring the needed stimulus in the economy in order to revive the fortunes of the manufacturing sector.

The financial expert urged the CBN to urgently tackle the challenges of prevailing exchange rates in the market in order to sustain the gains recorded at the foreign exchange market.

The apex bank had retained the benchmark interest rate at 14 per cent alongside other monetary policy rates since July 2016, citing inflationary pressure and a fragile post recession economy.

The nation’s inflation rate has, however, dropped for the 12th consecutive time to 14.33 per cent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

According to the Statistics Department of the CBN, the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) of March 2018 stood at 56.7 index points, indicating expansion in the manufacturing sector for 12 consecutive months.

Given an appreciable improvement in the fundamentals of the economy, financial experts argue that the economy was indeed overdue for a rate cut.

However, monetary policy alone is deficient in bringing the needed stimulant for economic growth, a blend of fiscal and monetary policies were needed for economic growth and recovery.

Source: Voice of Nigeria