Next MPC meeting so far scheduled on March 16, says SBP
- SBP chief spokesperson's statement comes amid widespread speculation the central bank is likely to increase interest rate in off-cycle review
KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said on Thursday its next monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting is so far scheduled on March 16, a statement that comes amid widespread speculation that the central bank was likely to announce an off-cycle review to raise the key interest rate.
"No MPC meeting has been held yet after the last meeting last month. The next MPC meeting so far scheduled is on March 16," SBP chief spokesperson Abid Qamar told Business Recorder via message on Thursday.
The SBP held its previous MPC meeting on January 23, announcing a hike of 100 basis points to take the key policy rate to 17% — highest level since October 1997.
Back then, it cited persistent inflationary pressure as the reason behind the hike.
The pace of inflation, however, has since increased with January's Consumer Price Index-based reading of 27.6% clocking in at nearly a 48-year high.
With Pakistan aggressively implementing measures to convince the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to revive its much-needed bailout programme, many believe inflation is set to inch upwards as higher energy tariffs and a weaker rupee in the face of a flexible exchange rate cause further pressure.
The market is already pricing in a hike with the interest rate on short-term government papers rising to 19.95% in the auction held on Wednesday. The cash-strapped government, which announced austerity measures on Wednesday, ended up borrowing Rs258 billion at a higher cutoff yield.
The KSE-100 Index has also been at the receiving end, plummeting 0.8% on Thursday, as investors factored in the interest rate hike, according to analysts.
An emergency meeting outside of the SBP-issued advance calendar happened last year in April in which the MPC decided to raise the policy rate by 250 basis points.
Bilal Memon is the Head of Digital Content at Business Recorder. His Twitter handle is @bilalahmadmemon