KARACHI - Governor of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Jameel Ahmad while announcing the monetary policy Monday said that SBP decided to keep the policy rate unchanged at 22 percent.
Addressing a press briefing about the Monetary Policy here on Monday, along with SBP Deputy Governors Dr. Inayat Hussain and Sima Kamil, and Director Policy Rate Fida Hussain, the SBP Governor said that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of SBP had decided to keep the policy rate unchanged.
He said that the Committee also reviewed the economic development. He said that the country would witness economic stability. The SBP Governor said that the growth rate would be 2 to 3 percent next year. Jameel Ahmed said that the inflation would remain between 20 to 22 percent in the 2024. He said that inflation would come down in the months to come.
He also predicted that the reserves would be in a better position in December and much better in January 2024. He said that the Committee noted that the economic uncertainty has decreased since the last meeting, whereas near-term external sector challenges had been largely addressed and investor confidence had shown improvement. While some upside risks to the inflation outlook have emerged, the Committee also took note of the expected lagged impact of the accumulated monetary tightening so far, budgeted fiscal consolidation, and the tepid growth outlook for FY24.
The MPC particularly noted that year-on-year (y/y) inflation is likely to remain on downward path over the next 12 months, which implies a significant level of positive real interest rate.
He said that since the MPC meeting held on June 26, several important developments have influenced the short-term macroeconomic outlook. First, Pakistan has secured a nine-month Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) with the IMF that has helped address immediate external sector stability concerns by supporting the foreign exchange reserves.
With disbursement of the first tranche under the SBA and $3 billion in bilateral support, the SBP’s FX reserves increased from $4.5 billion at end June 2023 to $8.2 billion as of July 21, 2023.
Second, on top of the additional tax measures introduced at the time of approval of the budget, the government has notified an increase in electricity tariffs which would contribute to inflation in coming months.
Third, the global commodity prices have somewhat increased but are still lower than their recent peak. Fourth, the IMF in its July 2023 World Economic Outlook has slightly raised its projection of global growth this year while leaving the 2024 growth projection unchanged.
In light of these developments, the MPC stressed on maintaining an appropriately tight monetary policy stance with positive real interest rates on forward looking basis to keep inflation and its expectation on downward path so as to achieve the medium-term inflation target of 5 – 7 percent by end-FY25.
The latest high-frequency indicators up to June 2023 continue to show weak economic activity, broadly in line with the provisional estimates of 0.3 percent real GDP growth in FY23; a sharp decline from around 6 percent growth in the previous two years. Looking ahead, barring unforeseen events, the MPC expects economic activity to moderately recover in FY24, supported by a rebound in rice and cotton output.
Jameel Ahmed said that The Committee further noted that improved business confidence and withdrawal of priority guidance on imports have improved the outlook for manufacturing, construction and allied services. Notwithstanding this improvement, the unfolding impact of accumulated monetary tightening and expected fiscal consolidation would continue to keep growth range bound. Taking these considerations into account, the real GDP growth is projected in the range of 2.0 to 3.0 percent for FY24.
He said that with the current account balance recording a surplus for the fourth consecutive month in June, the cumulative current account deficit in FY23 substantially narrowed to 0.7 percent of GDP from 4.7 percent in FY22. The MPC noted that this improvement primarily stems from policy-induced compression in imports, which more than offset the decline in exports and workers’ remittances during the year. Going forward, the current account deficit is expected to remain contained in the range of 0.5 to 1.5 percent of GDP in FY24.