The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is set to meet this week, on the 22nd and 23rd, for the last time this year (2021).
The 10-man committee headed by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele last met on September 17th, 2021, publishing its 38th communique that detailed the basis for its decision.
MPC meetings provide an opportunity for the CBN to communicate its monetary policy decisions on the economy. However, more recently, it been dominated by drama, surprises and rants especially during the press conferences hosted by Godwin Emefiele.
For example, at the press briefing following the end of the last meeting, Godwin Emefiele went after the operators of abokiFX, an online forex portal that publishes black market rates for foreign exchange transactions. He accused them of manipulating rates even going as far as bizarrely asking them to come to Abuja if they wanted a “fight” with him.
At the previous meeting in July, Emefiele surprised journalists at the media briefing when he announced a ban of Bureau De Change Operators in the country. He accused them of becoming “wholesale dealers, illegally in foreign exchange to the tune of millions of dollars per transaction” instead of selling to retail end users.
The media is already getting used to a drama-filled MPC press briefing, thus we asked analysts at the Nairametrics weekly ClubHouse session “OnTheMoney” what they expect from the CBN this week.
The analysts on the show expect the CBN to revel in the perceived success of their forex policies such as the banning of forex sales to BDCs and their decision to call out abokiFX.
- Since then, the exchange rate at the black market has strengthened from about 570/$1 to N545/$1 in recent weeks.
- The CBN has often maintained that the black market was not representative of the larger forex market preferring the much-maligned rate at the Investor & Exporter window as the reference rate.
- The CBN will likely continue to maintain that its forex policies are working highlighting improved liquidity in the system. The apex bank will also point to increasing forex reserves as a further sign that it has the financial muscle to meet “authentic” demand for forex.
- On BDCs we also expect him to keep the current ban on the sale of forex to BDCs in place just as he did in the last MPC meeting when he informed reporters that the ban will remain.
- Finally, we do not expect any major forex policy change from the CBN.
The CBN Governor will be expected to provide further details on the progress of its eNaira digital currency initiative which the central bank successfully launched.
- The latest data indicates the eNaira has successfully completed N46.3 million worth of transactions in less than two months of its launch.
- Knowing Emefiele, the CBN’s perceived success of its digital currency will be a major talking point of the session. We expect him to cite the fact that the CBN under him was the first to do this in Africa and how this will help with local currency and cross border transfers.
- Emefiele is also likely to provide further details around the operations of the digital currency and could address questions relating to how it affects commercial banks.
- We also expect him to respond to the recent review of the CBDC by the IMF.
Just as Emefiele speaks glowingly about the success of eNaira, we also expect him to come down hard on cryptocurrency enthusiasts in the country.
- Reports last week indicate the CBN may have instructed banks to post no debit (PND) account of Nigerians involved in peer-to-peer transfer of cryptocurrencies.
- Thus, we will not be surprised if he addresses this issue again at this week’s MPC, railing off against P2P proponents.
- We won’t be surprised if he dishes out new and stricter deterrents to banks still allowing p2p transactions.
- Also expect Emefiele to reference the continued ban on cryptocurrency mining in China as well as the volatility associated with them.
This is the main reason why monetary policy committee meetings are held in the first place. However, we have seen rates unchanged for some time now making this a largely non-affair.
- With the rate of inflation decelerating, we expect the CBN to cite its monetary policy initiatives as a contributory factor to the slowing inflation rate. But while still high, we do not expect the bank to now increase rates.
- They will also speak to the rising inflation rate globally and its possible effect on Nigeria.
- Our analysts expect rates to remain unchanged at 11.5% when they meet this week.
- The CBN will also continue with its CRR and Liquidity ratio of 27.5% and 30% respectively.
The current shareholder debacle at FBN Holdings took a new twist on Friday when the Pension Commission (PENCOM) clarified who actually owns Leadway Pensure shares.
- The CBN has remained silent since it was revealed that Femi Otedola owned the majority shares of the bank.
- It is thus, likely that Emefiele will respond to questions about the bank if asked by reporters.
- We expect the CBN to thus make a pronouncement on its knowledge of the majority shareholding of the bank.
- Mr Otedola may just be officially recognized by the central bank confirming his control of one of Nigeria’s largest banks.