AHEAD of a May 28 meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the committee has been advised to hold all rates, because of the global crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Making the call on Monday, economic analysts, in interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said that the pandemic and the sudden collapse of the oil market, despite early signs of recovery, indicated that the only option confronting the country was to offer stimulus packages.
The Managing Director of BIC Consulting Services, Dr Boniface Chizea, urging the committee to maintain status quo, said, “this is not the time to be tinkering with interest rates as it is of no effect or Cash Reserve Ratio or Loan to Deposit Ratio.
“The MPC meeting may just offer some advice to the Executive management of CBN, rectifying what has been done so far.
“We read that the reserves are bleeding profusely as the CBN defends the rate of exchange, recalling that the rates were suddenly reduced by 18 per cent to 360.
“But since not much of activity is going on by way of imports, scant attention has been paid to developments in this regard. So, we are in a global crisis and, realistically, we expect a bold decision.”
A Political Economist, Chief Martin Onovo, urged the MPC to lower interest rates, “as inflation is rising, our foreign reserve is dropping very sharply.
“National debt has also risen sharply and our country is clearly in a debt trap and heading to a debt crisis.
“In addition, the Naira is losing value sharply and the national economy is clearly ruined.
“Based on these, we expect the CBN in line with the stimulus package, to lower the interest rate.
“But, this will have an almost insignificant effect, given the current national economic predicament.”
The Director, Centre for Economic Policy Analysis and Research (CEPAR) University of Lagos, Prof. Ndubisi Nwokoma, advised the committee not to lower the Monetary Policy Rate, the interest rate at which CBN lends to commercial banks and other clients.
He said: “The exchange rate is fragile with possibility of further depreciation of the naira. Oil revenue is dwindling and foreign reserves on the decline. Inflation is on the increase and incomes are not rising for households.
He added that the SMEs had been the hardest hit by the lockdown, the border closure and the macroeconomic uncertainties.
“So, I think CBN should not relax credit through the Deposit Money Banks (DMOs).
“Loosening credit through DMBs can lead to more pressure on the exchange rate and hence, further depreciation of the naira. Hence MPR should not be lowered.”
However, he advised that more focus should be on developing finance credit to stimulate the sectors through Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
NAN recalls that the MPC in March, retained all key policy rates amid the growing impact of COVID-19 on the global and Nigerian economy.
MPR or the controlling lending rate was left at 13.5 per cent, with the asymmetric corridor at +200/-500 basis points around the MPR.
The Liquidity Ratio was at 30 per cent, while Cash Reserve Requirement (CRR) was left unchanged at 27.5 per cent.