‘Interest Rate May Rise Above 30%’
Average interest rates to end-users may rise above 30 per cent in future as banks begin to adjust lending rates to the new Monetary Policy Rate (MPR).
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) last week increased the MPR by 150 basis points from 11.50 per cent to 13 per cent.
Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Chinyere Almona, said the hike in MPR might shoot up retail lending rates above 30 per cent.
She said the hike had various implications for growth, job creation, and revenue generation for the government.
“When the MPR was 11.5 per cent some credit lenders charged as high as 25 per cent maximum rate to small companies. With the benchmark interest rate at 13 per cent, we may likely have rates climb beyond 30 per cent for SMEs,” Almona said.
She noted that the hike in the interest rates would mean less credit to the private sector and that can translate to reduced investment and constrained production in the economy, at least in the short term.
She argued that while the Chamber agrees with the proposition that a lower interest rate compared with higher rates in developed economies would lead to capital flight, but the interest rate hike would not on their own curb inflationary pressures.
“The supply-side challenges like insecurity, forex scarcity, and uncertainties from the inconsistent policy environment must be tackled to curb the rising inflation. This is the more sustainable solution to the rising inflation in Nigeria.
“In the coming months and into the third quarter, the CBN should expand its targeted intervention schemes to support the productive sectors of the economy to reduce the cost of production,” Almona said.
According to her, beyond the role of price stability, the CBN must pay attention to sustaining economic growth that can create jobs and boost government revenue.
She reiterated that hikes in rates alone would not tackle the near-galloping inflation trend.
She called for interventions to boost the supply of goods and services, build critical supportive infrastructure and resolve the illiquidity crisis in the forex market.
She said the hike was not unexpected with the trend around the rising inflation rates across many economies globally.
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She said the CBN action on the new MPR was well understood as a means to control the rising inflationary rate feared to assume a galloping trend soon, noting that the CBN has maintained that Nigeria’s high inflation rate was due to non-monetary factors outside its purview.
She said LCCI have consistently pointed at factors responsible for the rising inflation, including the epileptic supply of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), high cost of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO/Diesel), electricity tariff hikes, insecurity, and the illiquidity crisis in the foreign exchange market.
Almona said these factors have continued to put pressure on the cost of production translating to higher prices or cost-push inflation.
She suggested that the headwinds must be tackled head-on for the inflationary pressure to be tamed sustainably.