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State Bank Hikes Interest Rate to 16 Percent

The interest rate at State Bank has been raised to 16%.

The SBP raised its benchmark interest rate by 100 basis points (bps) to 16 percent, the highest level since 1999, in an effort to contain rising inflation. In its last two meetings in October and September, the central bank had left the rate unchanged. The SBP has increased the policy rate by a cumulative of 625 bps in 2022, including the latest hike. This time, the SBP has astonished the market participants and analysts by raising rates as the economy battles to recover from devastating floods.

This decision is the MPC‘s Monetary Policy Committee view that inflationary pressures have proven to be stronger and more continuous than expected. It is objected at ensuring that high inflation does not become entrenched and that risks to financial stability are contained, thus paving the way for higher growth on a more maintainable basis. The SBP cited risks of high inflation becoming continuous due to a rise in cost-push inflation as justification for increasing the interest rates at the highest rate in 23 years, in spite of the fact that the economy has slowed down.

The global and domestic supply shocks are spreading over into broader prices and wages, which could de-anchor inflation expectations and obstruct medium-term growth. The SBP has reiterated its prior gross domestic product projection of about 2 percent for the current fiscal year after incorporating post-disaster needs assessments of the floods. It also reaffirmed the current account deficit forecast of about 3 percent of GDP.

The State Bank said it now observe inflation reaching 21-23 percent in fiscal year23, well above the 18-20 percent previously forecasted, and driven particularly by soaring food prices and core inflation. However, it still expects the inflation to fall toward the upper range of the 5-7 percent medium-term target by the end of fiscal year 2024, supported by careful macroeconomic policies.

With the consumer price index rising 26.6 percent year-on-year in October, Pakistan has been grappling with escalating inflation. High food prices pushed weekly inflation up 0.48 percent week-on-week and 30.16 percent year-on-year during the seven-day period that ended November 24, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) data.

The sensitive price indicator (SPI) increased for the sixth consecutive week mainly on account of increase in prices of eggs (8.45 percent), bananas (5.87 percent), chicken (4.03 percent), onions (2.35 percent), tea prepared (2.02 percent), sugar (1.31 percent), firewood (1.76 percent) and cooked daal (1.07 percent).On the other hand, a major decrease was seen in the prices of pulse gram (1.26 percent), tomatoes (1.08 percent), pulse masoor (1.07 percent), vegetable ghee 2.5kg (0.59 percent), wheat flour (0.40 percent), LPG (0.39 percent), cooking oil 5 litre (0.32 percent) and pulse moong and mash (0.17 percent) each.

The SBP mentioned external account challenges become persistent since the MPC’s last meeting in October, despite moderation in the current account deficit and fresh funding from the Asian Development Bank. The repayment amount is around $1.08 billion which includes both, principal as well as interest, said a local brokerage house, Arif Habib Limited, who cited the governor at the analysts’ briefing held after the MPC meeting. The governor further stated that funding against this repayment had already been arranged.

Expressing on the expected reserve position by fsicalyear2023 the governor stated that it will remain largely dependent on the planned inflows, outflows, and rollovers; neverthless will be much higher than the current level. During November, $1.8 billion was repaid which was mostly against commercial loans, according to the SBP’s governor. Stating on the large heap of imports, the governor said 7,000 pending cases had been cleared so far, amounting to $2.8 billion.

Addressing the external funding worries the SBP informed that Pakistan was anticipating external flows from multilateral (such as World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and others), bilateral and other sources of which $500 million from Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is expected to be received earlier next week, on November 29.Talking about the IMF programme, the SBP said talks between the finance ministry and IMF were in progress.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar Friday reiterated the country’s commitment to meeting all of its financial obligations on time. Central banks around the world inflation by raising interest rates, which discourages economic activity. The headline inflation measure by the consumer price index rose 26.6percent year-on-year in October ins spite of devastating floods and attempts to maintain the fiscal discipline that have slowed the economy.

Already struggling for their survival amid multiple economic challenges mainly massive rupee-dollar fluctuation and severe energy shortages, the trade and industry leaders on Friday rejected the State Bank of Pakistan’s move to raise its policy rate by 100 basis points saying it would play havoc with the cost of doing business besides hitting exports hard.

Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Irfan Iqbal Shaikh said the business community has rejected a higher-interest rate of 16 percent and it cannot be termed as a wise decision. He said Pakistan has the highest interest rate compared to Malaysia’s 2.25pc, China’s 3.85pc, India’s 4.5pc and Bangladesh’s 5.5percent. The government has failed to control the rising strength of the dollar, which is short in the market.

The business community is already in crisis due to gas shortages and load shedding. Local products are losing their competitiveness in the world markets due to high production costs. The business community is already in deep crisis.Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Tariq Yousuf said that the interest rate hike reflects extra pressure on the government in managing the economic affairs in a tight situation to curb rising dollar value, the gap between open and interbank markets, gas shortage, non-availability of dollars in the market etc.

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