Bank of Ghana maintains policy rate at 16%

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The Monetary Policy Committee has kept its policy rate unchanged at 16 percent for the fifth session in a row.

Addressing a press conference in Accra on Monday to announce the rate decision after a meeting of the committee, Dr. Ernest Addison, said despite risks to the inflation outlook being broadly balanced the Committee decided to maintain the policy rate at 16 percent while monitoring developments going forward.

He said inflation was projected to stay within the medium-term target of 8±2 percent over the forecast horizon.

Headline inflation declined from 7.8 percent in August 2019 to 7.6 percent in September, and has since inched up to 7.7 percent in October on the back of the recent upward adjustment in administrative prices of electricity and water.

“Inflation expectations for businesses, consumers, and the financial sector, appear to be well-anchored within single digits despite a slight pick-up in the Bank’s measure of core inflation (headline inflation excluding fuel and utilities),” Dr. Addison said.

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On the international commodities market, Dr. Addison said favourable commodity price developments, together with increased oil production volumes, impacted positively on the trade account.

In the period January to September 2019, exports stood at $11.7 billion (3.3 percent annual growth) while imports started recovering, reaching $10.0 billion (2.5 percent annual growth).

This results is a further improvement of the trade surplus, which stood at $1.68 billion (2.5 percent of GDP), compared with $1,557.32 (2.4 percent of GDP) in the same period in 2018.

Current transfers improved, resulting in a further lowering of the current account deficit to $829.5 million (1.2 percent of GDP), compared to a deficit of $1.0 billion (1.5 percent of GDP) in the same period of 2018.

Dr. Addison said the current account deficit was financed by significant inflows into the financial account, reflecting mainly from the Eurobond proceeds and cocoa loan inflows.

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The overall balance of payments recorded a surplus of $878.9 million (1.3 percent of GDP) over the review period, compared with a deficit of $757.0 million (1.2 percent of GDP) in the previous year.

Gross International Reserves (GIR) increased by $1.67 billion to $8.70 billion as of November 15, 2019, providing cover for 4.2 months of imports. This compares with the end of December 2018 position of $7.02 billion (equivalent to 3.6 months of import cover).

On the foreign exchange market, the Ghana cedi depreciated by 10.4 percent against the US dollar as at November 21, 2019, compared with an 8.1 percent depreciation for the corresponding period in 2018.

Against the British pound and euro, the Ghana cedi cumulatively depreciated by 11.2 percent and 7.4 percent respectively, compared with 2.6 percent and 2.8 percent over the corresponding period in 2018.

Provisional data on the execution of the budget from January to September 2019 indicated that total revenue and grants amounted to GH¢36.3 billion (10.5 percent of GDP) compared with the projected target of GH¢42.0 billion (12.1 percent of GDP).

The revenue shortfalls were from both tax and non-tax sources. Total expenditures, including arrears clearance was GH¢51.0 billion (14.8 percent of GDP), below the target of GH¢56.1 billion (16.0 percent of GDP).

These developments resulted in an overall fiscal deficit (on a cash basis) of 4.5 percent of GDP against the target of 4.1 percent of GDP for the period. The primary balance also recorded a deficit of 0.3 percent of GDP against a programmed surplus of 0.1 percent of GDP. The deficit was financed from both domestic and external sources.

In line with these developments, the stock of public debt rose to 60.3 percent of GDP (GH¢208.6 billion), at the end of September 2019 compared with 56.8 percent of GDP (GH¢170.8 billion) at the end of September 2018.

Of the total debt stock, domestic debt was GH¢101.4 billion, of which GH¢11.2 billion (3.8 percent of GDP) represented bonds issued to support the financial sector clean up, while external debt was GH¢107.2 billion, with a share of 51.4 percent in the total public debt.

Source: GNA

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