Expect cost of borrowing to go up – Joe Jackson

A financial analyst, Mr Joe Jackson, has said Ghanaians should expect an increase in the lending rate following the upward adjustment of the policy rate by the Bank of Ghana (BoG).

Mr Jackson told TV3 in an interview that the decision to increase the policy rate will have little effect on the economy.

He said “The balance of increased cost of borrowing, the balance of reduced liquidity in this time, it may just be a decision that will have little effect on the problem but a huge unintended consequences. Inflation has already been affected by multiple things.

“It has been affected by post Covid imported inflation because of the bottle necks worldwide, remember that some parts of the inflation is not local. Another part of the inflation problem is food price inflation.

“The issue simply, is this, will reduced liquidity fix this problem? I doubt. So, in terms of inflation, I am not sure this can fix inflation. Remember that the rate going up means the cost of local borrowing even for the government is going to go up.

“So I am wondering what the Ministry of Finance is going to say about all these because side-by-side is that each time rates go up, either the cedi to dollar ratio goes up or the local interest rate goes up. Effect is that our public debt also increases. So you have got to look at this and ask on the balance was this increase going to solve our problems? I doubt.”

The Governor of the BoG, Dr Ernest Addison at the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) press conference in Accra on Monday March 21 announced that the Policy rate has been increased marginally to 17%.

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This comes at a time the local economy is facing challenges following the impact of the geopolitical tension between Russia and Ukraine as well as other factors.

“the Committee noted that the global economy has entered a period of profound uncertainty and fragility. The Russia-Ukraine war has introduced new uncertainties which have complicated the outlook and aggravated the Covid-related supply bottlenecks, elevated inflation expectations, and triggered higher crude oil prices, compounding the already high global inflationary pressures.

“Global financing conditions have tightened as key central banks raised policy rates into counter rising inflation. The combined effect of these developments could lead to further downgrades in global growth projections, increase investor uncertainty, and lead to capital outflows from emerging and frontier economies with weak fundamentals and could have severe exchange rate implications.

“Domestic growth conditions are fairly strong despite signs of weakening consumer and business sentiments. The steady increase in private sector credit growth has continued with positive growth implications. Banking sector performance remains strong, with sustained growth in total assets, investments and deposits. Key financial soundness indicators such as profitability, liquidity and solvency remain
healthy. Asset quality improved slightly, although there are upside risks to the outlook, requiring continued monitoring to address early signs of stress within the sector.

“The Sovereign credit rating downgrades of Ghana by Fitch and Moody’s led to widened yield spreads on both cedi-denominated Government of Ghana bonds and the country’s Eurobonds. These downgrades reflect market and investor concerns about fiscal and debt sustainability. Consequently, the Ghana Cedi has come under severe pressure as offshore investors exited positions in domestic securities at a time when domestic demand for forex has increased, reflecting both real and speculative demand. This has caused the exchange rate to overshoot its
long-term trend. The strengthening of the US dollar, liquidity pressures, uncertainties regarding budget implementation, portfolio reversals by nonresidents and some speculative pressures are key contributory factors.

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“At this MPC meeting, the combination of tighter global financing conditions, sharp pressures on the exchange rate, and elevated inflation pose some policy challenges. Headline inflation has risen sharply to 15.7 percent in February 2022, and both headline and core inflation are significantly above the upper limit of medium-term target band. The uncertainty surrounding price developments and its impact on economic activity is weighing down business and consumer confidence. The risks in the outlook for inflation are on the upside and include
petroleum price adjustments and transportation costs, and exchange rate depreciation. The Bank’s latest forecast still depicts an elevated inflation profile in the near term, with inflation falling within the medium-term target band within a year.

“Fiscal policy implementation has come under strain, reflecting embedded rigidities in the fiscal framework which will require extensive structural reforms to free fiscal space to restore both fiscal and debt sustainability. Revenue performance has been slow to align with projections, while expenditure remains rigid downwards despite the strong efforts to cut expenditure by 20 percent as announced by the
Government. The above have resulted in financing constraints which would have to be resolved very swiftly to ensure the announced fiscal consolidation path is achieved.

“The MPC is however confident that ongoing discussions will lead to very decisive policy reforms that will address underlying fiscal mismatches and restore some calm in the markets. This, together with the monetary policy decision and additional measures, should help re-anchor inflation expectations.

“Under these circumstances, the Committee has decided to increase the policy rate by 250 basis points to 17 percent,” Dr Addison said.

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By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana