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CBN heaadquarters. Image: Guardian Nigeria

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday retained the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 13.5 per cent.

The MPC said it retained the lending rate due to persistent uncertain economic conditions and high inflation.

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Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, made this known at a news conference on the outcome of the MPC meeting for the month of May.

Emefiele said 11 members were present at the meeting, adding that while nine voted to retain the MPR, two members voted to reduce the MPR by 25 basis point from 13.5 per cent to 13.2.5 per cent.

To this effect, he said the Cash Reserves Ratio (CRR) remained unchanged at 22.5 per cent, liquidity at 30 per cent and Asymmetric corridor at +200 and -500 basis points around the MPR.

The apex bank boss said the MPC also noted with concern the rising level of non-performing loans in the banking system and the fact that the economy was still confronted with growth challenges and inflationary pressure.

“In view of the development, the committee therefore, identified two likely policy options: Tightening or maintaining the status quo,” he said.

“The committee felt that although the slight inflation optic should resolve in tightening, it nevertheless felt that doing this will limit the ability of deposit money banks to increase credit to SMEs, agriculture and manufacturing.

“As regards to loosening, some members felt that it was desirable to aggressively stimulate growth, restock the capital market activities and increase lending at lower rates which will ultimately stimulate domestic aggregate demand.

“Those against loosening also felt that given that there is a marginal increase in headline inflation for April 2019, there is need to restrain from loosening in other not to exasperate inflationary pressures.

“They also felt the economy will experience liquidity boost and without corresponding growth in real sector output, inflationary pressures could be elevated resulting in likely exchange rates pressures.”