Six months after it last held the bi-monthly Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in July 2023, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has fixed its next meeting for February 26 and 27, 2024.
The meeting, the first under the chairmanship of Olayemi Cardoso as governor. was widely expected to hold a month earlier.
A statement by the CBN also released a new calendar of the MPC meetings for 2024, showing that the meetings have been scheduled for February, March, May, July, September and November 2024.
Until it was put on hold in what was widely seen as allowing Cardoso and the four Deputy Governors settle down, the MPC meeting has been held every other month beginning from January of every year and ending in November.
Ahead of the scheduled February meeting, the CBN held a two-day strategic session for members perhaps to acquaint them of the strategic direction of the newly inaugurated Bola Tinubu administration.
The statement by the CBN’s Acting Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mrs. Hakama Sidi Ali, disclosed that the session is to enable members brainstorm and engage in an in-depth discussion about the committee’s objectives.
She revealed that the critical focus areas during the retreat included deliberations on the strategic plan to effect necessary improvements in the monetary policy transmission mechanism.
According to her, the sessions were facilitated by former MPC members, monetary policy communication specialists at the IMF, and Directors of Departments critical to the MPC process.
“The valuable insights gained from these discussions will significantly contribute towards the robustness of the forthcoming MPC meetings,” she noted.
Recall that in his keynote address at the 58th Annual Bankers’ Dinner and Grand Finale of the 60th anniversary of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), on November 24, 2023, Cardoso while outlining the policy direction of the CBN for 2024, pledged to prioritise price and exchange rate stability to promote sustainable economic growth, safeguarding the livelihoods of Nigerians.
The CBN leadership, he said had critically reviewed the effectiveness of the apex bank’s monetary policy tools and spent time fixing the transmission mechanism to ensure MPC decisions actually resulted in desired objectives.
According to him, there had been a dislocation of monetary transmission mechanism for quite some time, which rendered the MPC meetings largely ineffective, following which to address this challenge the CBN was committed to achieving monetary and price stability.
“This is not just a technical objective, but it has real-life implications for the well-being of our citizens. Through targeted policies, transparent market operations, and coordination between monetary and fiscal authorities, we can ensure a more stable exchange rate, control inflation, and create an enabling environment for businesses and individuals to thrive,” he added.
Speaking further on the exchange rate, he disclosed that he had held meetings with business owners engaged in international trade, who recounted the difficulties they experienced with the fluctuations in the exchange rate, which often led to uncertainties and unexpected costs.
It was therefore imperative, he continued, that the CBN provides transparency and creates a market environment that allows fair determination of exchange rates, ensuring stability for businesses and individuals alike.
As an adviser to the government, he reiterated that the CBN would be repositioned as a catalyst for economic stability and growth. He explained that instead of direct interventions, the bank would collaborate with stakeholders and formulate policies that create an enabling environment for sustained economic growth and development.
“Our catalytic role will support increased investment and private sector participation in the economy, improve access to finance for MSMEs, and enhance financial services for the underbanked. This includes promoting specialized institutions and financial products to support emerging sectors, developing regulatory frameworks to unlock dormant capital in land and property holdings, facilitating accelerated access to consumer credit, and expanding financial inclusion to reach the masses,” he added.
Cardoso explained that the CBN would work with experts to develop de-risking instruments that encourage private sector investment in key industry verticals such as: housing, textiles and clothing, food supply chain, healthcare, and educational supplies, which have a high potential for local inputs and value retention. The CBN Governor said the bank was conducting a comprehensive review of the licensing framework for payment services, adding that the CBN would engage in extensive consultations to develop a new regulatory and compliance framework that is suitable for the technology-driven payment services sector.
He, therefore, charged banks to reassess the responsible banking framework to ensure that the requirements are effectively integrated into their strategies. He also disclosed that the CBN was enhancing its in-house capacity so that it can assist other banks that still have progress to make in implementing their sustainability principles. Going forward, he said the new team at the CBN would tackle institutional deficiencies, restore corporate governance, strengthen regulations, and implement prudent policies.
“We assure investors and the business community that the economy will experience significant stability in the short-to-medium term as we recalibrate our policy toolkits and implement far-reaching measures.
“We will stand by Nigeria and Nigerians. Our actions will be fully guided by the principles of transparency, responsibility, and a deep commitment to Nigeria’s progress,” he declared.
Speaking on the outlook for 2024, Mr. Cardoso noted that, the CBN, in line with the strategy to refocus on the Bank’s core mandate, will discontinue direct quasi-fiscal interventionist activities and instead utilize orthodox monetary policy tools for implementing monetary policy. Accordingly, he said the CBN had approved the adoption of an explicit inflation-targeting framework to enhance the effectiveness of its monetary policy. He, however, added that the details and requirements for the framework were currently being finalized alongside the fiscal authorities. He said the CBN would also provide forward guidance, enhance transparency, and maintain effective communication with the public to anchor expectations and build trust among stakeholders.