Emiefele: Nigeria Expects Rate to Be Held at 14% Next Week

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    • Emefiele says key interest rate will probably be kept at 14%
    • Central bank has made good progress on inflation: Emefiele

    Nigeria’s central bank governor expects the Monetary Policy Committee to hold its main interest rate at next week’s meeting.

    “I don’t think rates will change,” Godwin Emefiele said in an interview in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, Wednesday. Does economic data “portend towards any significant changes in the policy rates? We don’t see that. Normally, when you begin the year, what you find is that you want to hold the policy rate steady.”

    The MPC is scheduled to meet in Abuja Jan. 22 and Jan. 23, when it will announce its decision. It has kept the key rate at a record high 14 percent since July 2016, trying to balance bringing down inflation and boosting an economy that exited recession only last year.

    The International Monetary Fund and African Development Bank expect economic growth in the continent’s biggest oil producer to accelerate to 2.1 percent this year after output contracted 1.6 percent in 2016.

    Inflation decelerated to 15.4 percent in December after peaking at 18.7 percent in January 2017. The central bank, which targets a range of 6 percent to 9 percent, is making “very good progress” bringing the rate down, said Emefiele.

    He is “very hopeful” that the meeting will take place as scheduled, despite some newly-appointed MPC members not having been confirmed yet by the Senate. If that doesn’t happen in time, the meeting may have to be delayed.

    “We are getting close to the MPC, but I can tell you that I’m optimistic that issues about the confirmation of our nominees are being dealt with,” he said.

    — With assistance by Paul Wallace

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