The CBN Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) switched its policy stance to ‘easing’ at the last MPC held on March 25-26, 2019. While holding other policy parameters at previous levels, the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) was cut by 50bps to 13.5%1 following a retaining policy stance of 14% that lasted for more than two years (since July 2016). The justification for the rate cut is linked to the following: the relative moderation in the exchange rate, continued deceleration of inflation rate, and the gradual renaissance of investment flows. Although the economy has welcomed improvements in economic indicators such as the GDP growth rate, the policy decision was primarily anchored on the need to further stimulate the economy. The rate cut could reduce the cost of borrowing while encouraging credit flows to productive sectors of the economy.2 In the coming months, we expect that the 13.5% MPR will be sustained as the transmission lags of the new rate on other economic variables will be expected to fully manifest before further changes are made.
Macroeconomic Report & Economic Updates
This paper was produced as part of a larger project which was jointly financed by the UKDepartment for International Development in Nigeria (through its Policy and Knowledge facility)and the Research Committee of the World Bank.
The Naira continued to depreciate in the review week. At the parallel market, naira exchanged for N498/$ on January 27, 2017 and N500/$ on February 3, 2017. Despite the weekly sales of forex to BDCs and the significant improvements in the external reserves, the naira has continued to lose value to other currencies. The pressure on the naira has been triggered by escalating scarcity of forex in the spot market, likely due to forex hoarding. However, in the preceding week, the CBN sold $660 million in forwards contract in an attempt to manage liquidity and stabilize the naira. In the face of growing speculation in the parallel market, the monetary authority should institute mechanisms that would discourage excessive forex hoarding among licensed BDC operators. An initiative that monitors transaction dealings in the parallel market would go a long way in detecting erring BDC operators.