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Mauritius Leaves Key Lending Rate Unchanged as Inflation Slows

The Bank of Mauritius left its key lending rate unchanged for a third consecutive meeting as it warned that downside risks to economic growth remain.

The Monetary Policy Committee, led by Governor Rundheersing Bheenick, maintained the benchmark interest rate at 4.65 percent, the Port Louis-based central bank said on its website today. Two out of four economists and analysts forecast the decision in a Bloomberg survey, while the other two projected a rise of 25 basis points, or 0.25 percentage point.

“A majority of members argued that domestic economic conditions were broadly unchanged from the previous MPC meeting” in February, according to the statement. “They considered it premature to tighten the current monetary policy stance given continued downside risks to the growth outlook and subdued inflationary pressures.”

Annual headline inflation in the Indian Ocean island nation accelerated to 4 percent in March from 3.9 percent a month earlier. The government forecasts the economy will expand 3.7 percent this year from 3.2 percent last year, a rate the International Monetary Fund said was lower than expected.

The bank forecasts inflation will stay in a range of 3.9 percent to 4.3 percent by December and it maintained its economic growth forecast at 3.7 percent to 4 percent for 2014.

The IMF this month recommended Mauritius tighten monetary policy if inflationary risks intensify, according to a statement on the organization’s website following an assessment by its board.

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