Nigeria MPC Meeting Delayed by Up to 10 Days, Emefiele Says

Updated on
  • Will meet by latest ‘first week of April,’ governor tells CNBC
  • MPC didn’t meet in January because it lacked a qourum

The headquarters of the Nigerian central bank in Abuja.

Photographer: George Osodi/Bloomberg

Nigeria’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting will be delayed by between a week and 10 days, central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele said.

The postponement is to allow the Senate time to screen and approve nominees to the MPC, Emefiele said in an interview broadcast on CNBC Africa on Thursday. The meeting will take place “by latest, the first week of April,” he said.

Read more about the impasse causing the delay in Nigeria’s MPC meeting

Senate lawmakers on March 13 finally agreed to start vetting President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominees to the MPC, less than a week before the panel was scheduled to start assessing policy for the March 20 interest-rate announcement. The committee already lacked a quorum to meet on rates in January as a standoff in parliament prevented the approval of the Buhari’s six candidates, who include two potential deputy governors.

“From where we are coming from this is progress,” Michael Famoroti, an economist at Lagos-based Vetiva Capital Management Ltd., said by phone. “In January we had no idea when the next MPC would take place because the senators were so adamant to not approve any presidential appointees. If the price to pay is a two-week delay, then it’s not of big concern. It could have dragged on for a longer time.”

While inflation in Africa’s most-populous nation has been outside the 6 percent to 9 percent target band for more than two years, it slowed to a 22-month low in February, creating room for the central bank to at least start talking about lowering the benchmark rate from a record 14 percent, where it’s been since July 2016.

“We are not seeing the need right now to alter the price mechanisms,” Emefiele said. “Reserves are building up, the exchange rate is stable, growth is coming, inflation is trending downwards. All these macro-economic indicators are pointing in the correct direction.”

Emefiele said in a January interview the panel may loosen policy before July if price growth moves closer to single digits, but if the March MPC doesn’t take place at all, there is only one chance left to assess rates before the middle of the year.

Central bank spokesman Isaac Okorafor didn’t immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment.

— With assistance by Paul Wallace

(Updates with governor’s comment in sixth paragraph.)
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