UPDATE 1-Nigeria’s central bank aims for first rate meeting by April -governor


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By Chijioke Ohuocha and Alexis Akwagyiram

LAGOS, March 15 (Reuters) – Nigeria’s central bank will delay its next interest rate-setting meeting following a political spat over nominations for its Monetary Policy Committee, the governor said on Thursday.

Governor Godwin Emefiele told CNBC the meeting scheduled for March 19-20 would be delayed by about seven to 10 days, or at the latest until the first week of April.

Nigeria’s Senate will next week consider a report into nominations for the central bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC), its president said on Wednesday, a move that could end an impasse that has stymied policy decisions.

The Senate has held up some of President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominees for the committee in a dispute which has left it unable since the start of the year to form a quorum to set interest rates.

The bank cancelled its first MPC meeting in January and left interest rates on hold at 14 percent, a level where it has kept them for over a year to support the naira and curb inflation.

“The MPC will certainly hold by latest the first week in April,” Emefiele said.

Buhari has nominated a central bank veteran, Edward Adamu, to be a deputy governor, replacing Sulaiman Barau, who retired in December. But Adamu and others are yet to be screened.

Consequently, the MPC has just four members now, out of 12 positions. A quorum of at least six members is needed to approve an interest rate decision.

Emefiele said Nigeria’s foreign reserves were rising again and that the exchange rate was stable, with inflation trending downwards – a positive sign for the economy.

Inflation fell to an almost one-year low in February at 14.13 percent, while Nigeria’s dollar reserves have risen to $46 billion. Though the economy emerged from its first recession in 25 years last year, growth remains fragile.

“The good thing is that the main decision the MPC would have taken, which is bordering on price stability, or altering the price dynamic today, we are not seeing the need right now to alter the price mechanism,” Emefiele said. (Editing by Andrew Heavens and Elaine Hardcastle)


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