Policy rate maintained at 15 percent | Business News 2013-02-14
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Business News of Thursday, 14 February 2013

Source: GNA

Policy rate maintained at 15 percent

The Bank of Ghana Monetary Policy Committee has maintained the policy at 15 percent, in view of its judgment of the risks to inflation and growth in the outlook as fairly balanced.

The Committee viewed the outlook as broadly positive underpinned by private sector credit expansion, improved business and consumer sentiments, growth Composite Index of Economic Activity (CIEA) and increased oil production in the last quarter of 2012.

However, the major risks to the outlook are the on-going energy challenges and its likely impacts on businesses to the extent of fiscal consolidation.

This was contained in a statement made available to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday.

It said the Committee reaffirms its commitment to respond appropriately if risks to the outlook materialized in 2013.

It said global economic conditions improved modestly during the second half of 2012; the main source of growth was emerging markets economies where activities picked up.

It said the temporal the United States “fiscal cliff” also offers some hopes for gradual economic recovery; going forward global growth expected to strengthen further through 2013.

The statement said on the domestic front, there were positive economic developments due to improved sentiments and optimism by businesses and consumers.

It said growth in the CIEA picked up during the last quarter of 2012; private sector credit growth had remained above trend; credit conditions had ease somewhat, though not evenly distributed.

It said inflation surprised on the down side of in December 2012 due to base drift effects and much earlier passed through of the exchange depreciation in the year.

It said there was also strong confidence in the economy evidence by high participation of non-resident investors in medium term instruments; the implementation of policy measures by the Bank to slow down volatility in the foreign exchange market during the first half year helped calm the financial markets and largely eased exchange rate pressures.

The statement said despite these positive developments, the Committee noted that the provisional end year fiscal numbers present the economy with a major challenge going forward.

It said the budget outturn clearly showed that there would be the need for fiscal consolidation in 2013; to achieve this, it would be necessary to address the pressures related to wages and salaries settlements, utility and fuel subsidies and outstanding payments and commitments.

The statement said although the implementation of the single spine salary is “one-off” exercise it has resulted in a substantial increase in the base of the wage bill; the magnitude of negotiated wages increments in 2013 could therefore pose a risk to the consolidation process.

It said the Committee also noted that it was imperative to address the issue of utility and fuel subsidies.

It said the Committee further observed that the worsening balance of payment could pose a risk to the outlook; however, positive development in the global economy and improved prospects for increased oil production in 2013 could mitigate the pressures of the external sector.

It said in assessing the inflation outlook, the Committee noted that the major upside risks would be the possible removable of utility and fuel subsidies, management of the 2013 wage negotiations and balance of payment risks.

The statement said on the downside however, the possible unwinding of the fiscal imbalances in 2013, declining inflation expectations, global inflation and monetary growth could serve as dampeners on inflation.

It said the Committee noted that the policy measures put in place during the second half of last year to address volatility had yielded the desired result and restored stability.

It said the Bank of Ghana forecasts that inflation would remain broadly stable within a projected band of 9.0 plus or minus 2 percent by end 2013; however, this may be revised with the expected revision of the Consumer Price Index basket by the Ghana Statistical Service in March.