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Mauritius MPC Leaves Key Rate Unchanged as Inflation Seen Steady

Mauritius’s Monetary Policy Committee left its benchmark interest rate unchanged for a fourth consecutive meeting as inflation is expected to remain within the central bank’s target range.

The panel, led by Governor Rundheersing Bheenick, left the rate at 4.9 percent, according to a statement published on the Port Louis-based institution’s website today after its first Monetary Policy Committee meeting this year. The decision is in line with a Bloomberg survey in which four out of six economists forecast no change.

“There is no need to raise interest rates at this stage given that inflation is under control,” said Yousouf Ismael, an economist at St. Aubin Group, a Mauritian company with interests in the country’s’ sugar and tourism industries.

Annual inflation slowed to 3.6 percent last month from 3.7 percent in January, Statistics Mauritius said on March 6. A Bank of Mauritius survey in February found that 54 percent of respondents expect inflation to remain below 4.5 percent by June. The central bank targets inflation at 4 percent to 6 percent.

Mauritius’s economy is forecast to grow 3.7 percent this year, compared with an estimated 3.3 percent in 2012, helped by increased output in its information-technology and financial- services industries, the International Monetary Fund said in January. The government also expects the anticipated arrival of 1 million tourist to the Indian Ocean island nation this year to boost the economy.

The rupee traded 0.3 percent weaker at 31 per dollar by 6.01 p.m. in Port Louis. It has weakened 1.5 percent this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Today’s MPC meeting had been delayed from March 4 after its board was constituted. Its two new members are Jeffrey Henkel from Harvard University and Hemraz Oopuddhye Jankee, former chief economist of Bank of Mauritius.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christina Vilbrin in Port Louis via Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson in Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

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