Bangko Sentral hikes benchmark rate to 2.5% to tame soaring inflation

(From: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Facebook)
(From: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Facebook)

THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Thursday hiked its benchmark interest rate by another 25 basis points to temper the country’s surging inflation.

BSP Gov. Benjamin Diokno made the announcement in a virtual briefing.

The 25 bps hike brought the overnight reverse repurchase rate, used by banks to price loans, to 2.5 percent.

The rate hike was in line with the expectations of some analysts who said the central bank needed to keep pace with other central banks, especially the US Federal Reserve, which has been aggressively tightening monetary policy in the face of rising inflation.

“In deciding to raise the policy interest rate anew, the Monetary Board noted that upside risks continue to dominate the inflation outlook up to 2023, with pressures emanating from the potential impact of higher global non-oil prices, the continued shortage in domestic fish supply, as well as pending petitions for transport fare hikes due to elevated oil prices,” Diokno said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the impact of a weaker-than-expected global recovery and the possible reimposition of local Covid-19 restrictions amid an uptick in infections continue to be the main downside risks to the outlook.

Inflation soared to 5.4 percent in May and is likely to remain elevated for the rest of the year, as the Ukraine war pushes up prices of crude oil and other commodities.

The BSP’s latest baseline forecasts have shifted higher, with average inflation projected to breach the upper end of the 2-4 percent target range at five percent in 2022 and at 4.2 percent in 2023.

However, average inflation is also seen to subsequently decline to 3.3 percent in 2024. At the same time, inflation expectations have continued to rise. While they remain within the target range for 2023-2024, elevated expectations highlight the risk of further second-round effects arising from sustained price pressures, BSP said.

Given these considerations, the Monetary Board believes that a follow-through increase in the policy rate enables the BSP to withdraw its stimulus measures while safeguarding macroeconomic stability amid rising global commodity prices and strong external headwinds to domestic economic growth.

The Monetary Board also reiterates its support for the carefully coordinated efforts of other government agencies as part of a whole-of-government approach in implementing non-monetary interventions to mitigate the impact of persistent supply-side factors on inflation.

In line with the ongoing normalization of its monetary policy settings, the BSP said it is prepared to take all necessary policy action to bring inflation toward a target-consistent path over the medium term and deliver on its primary mandate of price stability.


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