The Central Bank yesterday announced it has rescheduled its monetary policy committee meeting to September 19-20, 2019.
The bank said it was compelled to move the meeting forward to September 19 and 20 after having previously been scheduled to take place on September 23-24. The statement gave no reason for the change as its spokeman spokesman Mr Isaac Okoroafor gave no reason for the chnage of date.
However, a reliable source at the apex bank said shift may not be unconnected with the plan of the governor Godwin Emefiele to attend the U.N. General Assembly in New York next week, where Nigeria’s Tijjani Muhammad -Bande is expected to assume the presidency of the UN General Assembly.
But ahead of the weeks meeting analysts are expecting Nigeria’s monetray authority to begin easing rates from September after inflation fell to almost a four-year low in August but the price index remains outside the bank’s single-digit target and recent currency weakness could mean it might want to hold fire.
The CBN in March cut its benchmark interest rate in a surprise move to 13.5 per cent from 14 per cent as part of an attempt to stimulate growth and signal a new direction. The move was the first rate cut since November 2015.
Nigeria emerged from its first recession in 25 years in 2017 but growth remains fragile, although higher oil prices and recent debt sales have helped Africa’s biggest crude producer to accrue billions of dollars in foreign reserves.
Meanwhile the country’s annual inflation feel to 11.02percent in August, its lowest in almost four years, down from 11.08per cent in July, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.
Inflation has been falling steadily since May, boosting chances that CBN could begin to loosen interest rates at its rate setting meeting next week. The price index, which peaked at 18.7 percent in January last year, has been in double digits for three years.
The bank in March cut its benchmark interest rate in a surprise move to 13.5per cent from 14 per cent in an attempt to stimulate growth and signal a new direction. The move was the first rate cut since November 2015.
Governor Godwin Emefiele said the bank would maintain its tight monetary stance in 2019, and sees inflation at 11.31 percent, rising to 12 percent this year before moderating.
Tuesday’s data showed that inflation fell to its lowest in three and a half years, a level last seen in February 2016. Food prices, which make up the bulk of the inflation basket, dropped to 13.17 per cent in August from 13.39 per cent a month earlier.
In a related development the Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday, charged operators of bureaux de change to curb money laundering and terrorism by operating in accordance with the rules of the business.
Mr Kayode Asanmo, the CBN Deputy Director, Banking Supervision, disclosed this during a sensitisation programme in the South –South and South-East zones, in Port Harcourt.
The programme, with the theme “Sensitisation Visit of the Financial Action Task Force Teams on Mutual Evaluations”, was organised by the Association of Bureaux de Change of Nigeria (ABCON).