• Friday, May 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Another rate hike looms for Nigeria as inflation quickens, naira slides

Naira hits one-month low of 1,470 on black market

Nigeria’s inflation rate climbed for a 16th consecutive month in April, driven by a threefold increase in electricity tariffs and higher transport costs.

The acceleration raises the prospect of another interest-rate hike when the central bank’s monetary policy committee meets next week. It’s already lifted borrowing costs to a record high to curb price growth and boost the naira.

The inflation rate climbed to 33.7% from 33.2% in March, the National Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday in a statement published on its website. That was lower than the median estimate of eight economists in a Bloomberg survey of 34.2%.

Core inflation, which excludes farm produce and energy costs, quickened to 26.8% from 25.9% and food price growth accelerated to 40.5% in April from 40% a month earlier.

Nigeria, which has the world’s second-largest poor population after India, bumped up energy prices to 225 naira (15 US cents) per kilowatt hour from 68 naira in April for 15% of mostly urban consumers, before reducing them by 8% earlier this month. The increase triggered protests by labor unions to demand a reversal of the hike.

The highest inflation rate in 28 years, along with expectations that it will rise further partly because of renewed weakness in the naira, will likely persuade the MPC to hike borrowing costs at its May 20-21 meeting. The committee has raised the benchmark rate by 600 basis points this year to 24.75%.

Governor Olayemi Cardoso said earlier this week that interest rates will remain high for as long as necessary to tame inflation. The policy meeting will take place a week before President Bola Tinubu marks his first year in office.