Banks Won’t Be Able to Lend More Than 25% of Public Funds From February– Sanusi

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sanusiTo further tighten monetary policy, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria reviewed key global and domestic economic developments in 2013 and re-assessed the short- to medium-term risks to inflation, domestic output and financial stability and the outlook for 2014.
The CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said this step was necessary to save the Naira from further fall in value and the Committee decided to raise the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) on public deposits from 50 to 75 per cent with effect from February.
In the communiqué of the Committee, Sanusi expressed concern over the continued depletion of the Excess Crude Account (ECA) which balance stood at less than US$2.5 billion on January 17, 2014 compared with about US$11.5 billion in December 2012.
“This absence of fiscal buffers increased our reliance on portfolio flows thus, constituting the principal risk to exchange rate stability, especially with uncertainties around capital flows and oil price,” he warned.
The Committee decried the continuous fall in revenue from oil despite stable price of oil and production in 2013. Even the acknowledged output losses due to theft and vandalism could not wholly explain the magnitude of the shortfall in revenue.
As a consequence, accretion to external reserves remained low while much of the previous savings have been depleted, thereby undermining the ability of the Central Bank to sustain exchange rate stability.
The Committee called the fiscal authorities to stop revenue leakages and rebuild fiscal savings needed to sustain confidence and preserve the value of the Naira.
Sanusi noted that reserves had fallen to $42.85 billion, representing a decrease of US$ 0.98 billion or 2.23 per cent compared with $ 43.83 billion in December 2012, in spite of good international oil market prices in 2013.
CBN Chief noted that a widening gap between the official and the BDC exchange rates is observed. This could precipitate speculation and round-tripping, he said.
The Governor said there is a need for a complementary monetary policy response to ensure exchange rate stability and convergence of rates in various segments.
According to Sanusi, CBN had two options: either allowing a depreciation of the Naira to avoid further tightening and depletion of reserves, or maintaining currency stability while finding ways to support monetary policy that is at its limits with the fiscal side in the form of excess crude savings. In the end, Sanusi said the monetary authorities settled for the later.
The Committee decided that the costs of a weaker Naira outweigh the benefits to the Nigerian economy and opted to maintain its commitment to currency stability.
The Committee also decided against excessive reliance on external reserves to support the exchange rate and opted for monetary tightening until fiscal buffers are rebuilt.

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