The Central Bank of Nigeria’s Monetary Policy Committee is unlikely to hold its first interest rate setting meeting on January 22 as scheduled, it has been learnt.
This, according to CBN sources, is because several new members of the MPC appointed by the Federal Government have yet to be confirmed by the National Assembly.
The MPC meets once in every two months to review the state of the economy and possibly take key decisions around interest rates in order to steer the direction of the economy.
At least five of the MPC’s 12 members are due to be replaced after retiring last year.
“The indications that the MPC might not hold are there because of quorum,” Reuters quoted one of the sources.
The CBN rules state that at least six members of the MPC are needed to approve an interest rate decision.
A rate announcement had been expected on January 23, a day after the meeting.
The sources said the central bank would issue a statement.
At its last meeting in November, the MPC held the Monetary Policy Rate at the same 14 per cent level it has kept for more than a year to fight inflation and to attract foreign investors to support the naira.
The Statistician-General, National Bureau of Statistics, Dr. Yemi Kale, was said to have told Reuters earlier that he expected inflation to fall faster this year than in 2017 as the economy and currency stabilise, but warned that spending ahead of elections next year could stoke price rises.
But the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, told Bloomberg on Wednesday that he expected the MPC to hold its main interest rate at next week’s meeting.
“I don’t think rates will change. Normally, when you begin the year, what you find is that you want to hold the policy rate steady,” he had stated.
The MPC has kept its key rate at a record high 14 per cent since July 2016, trying to balance bringing down inflation and boosting an economy that exited recession only last year.
Inflation decelerated to 15.4 per cent in December after peaking at 18.7 per cent in January 2017.
Emefeile said the CBN was making “very good progress” bringing the rate down.
He is 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