CBN tightens noose on banks’ vault, raises rates to 20-year high, ups CRR

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has raised the interest rates to 15.5 per cent from 14 per cent, a 150 basis raise and 20-year high in a bid to deflate rising inflation.
Inflation in August was 20.52 per cent showing an increase from a previous 19.64 per cent in July.
At the end of the meeting, the apex bank adjusted Asymmetric Corridor at +100 & -200 basis points around the MPR (interest rate).
“Tightening global financial conditions and continued dollar appreciation will set the tone for upcoming sub-Saharan Africa central bank decisions,” said Razia Khan at Standard Chartered, who expects action in both Nigeria and Kenya.
The banking sector regulator also increased the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) of banks to a minimum of 32.5 per cent and stressed that commercial banks will be debited from their reserves by Thursday at the most.
The MPC also raised the Liquidity Ratio to 30 per cent. This is the most aggressive monetary policy decision ever taken by Nigeria’s central bank in decades.
The implication is that, the banks will have less money to lend to the economy, ahead of political spending.
The Governor also explained that banks that fail to fund their bank accounts will be denied access to the foreign exchange market, noting that increased liquidity is one of the major reasons why the exchange rate has been depreciating.
At a media briefing in Abuja that was also relayed online through U-Tube channel, the CBN said it would continue to raise interest rates as long as inflation continues to trend upwards.
According to CBN governor, Godwin Refueled, using the interest rate hike is the easiest and most preferred option, stressing that the option has been adopted globally.
“If you want to rein in inflation, the option is to raise the interest rate to a level that is equal or possibly higher than the inflation rate, so that inflation rate must lag policy rate,” Emefiele insisted.
He stressed that if the inflation rate does not lag the interest rate, it becomes a negative interest rate and a disincentive to investors.
He is of the view that as long as inflation keeps rising, not raising interest rates will retard growth and leave the people poorer than they could have been.
“Therefore it is imperative that you must raise interest rate in order to rein in inflation.” the CBN governor said.
He, however, admitted that though raising interest rates may retard growth all the same but the reason for raising interest rates is not to help slow down inflation but compensate for an aggressive rise in inflation.
According to him, if the CBN does not raise the rate, consumption and expenditure would be affected because the purchasing power of individuals would be eroded or dissipated.
He argues that the quantity of goods people will be able to buy would also shrink and this will invariably increase the level of poverty.
He, therefore, concluded thus: “You don’t have a choice but to raise interest rates.”
According to him, a study conducted by the apex bank has shown that once inflation trends above 12 or 13 per cent it would definitely retard growth no matter how you try to rein it in.
He noted that in view of the aggressive manner in which inflation has risen in the last four months, it will be difficult for the apex bank not to adopt an equally aggressive approach as it had done today.

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