BSP chief rules out another off-cycle rate move

July 26, 2022 - 12:57 PM
BSP building
Facade of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas in Manila. (BSP/Released)
  • BSP chief signals less than 75 bps rate hike in Aug
  • policy decisions to remain data-driven
  • Finmin: No need for aggressive borrowing to support growth

 The Philippine central bank chief on Tuesday ruled out another off-cycle move on monetary policy tightening, while signaling a rate hike of less than 75 basis points at its Aug. 18 meeting in a continuing bid to curb red-hot inflation.

“One thing I can say is you can surprise people only once, so there will be no more off-cycle (policy move),” Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Felipe Medalla said.

“My guess is you can rule out zero or 75 basis points,” he said, speaking at a forum on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s policy agenda and responding to a question on the magnitude of the BSP’s next policy action.

His remarks come ahead of Wednesday’s U.S. Federal Reserve policy decision, with markets pricing in a near 90% chance it will hike by 75 bps.

The BSP’s reverse repurchase facility rate PHCBIR=ECI is currently at 3.25% following three successive hikes totaling 125 bps between May and July, including a surprise 75 bps on July 14 that was approved outside the regular schedule for policy reviews.

Medalla said future policy moves will remain data-driven, and reiterated that the economy was able to absorb rate increases.

Philippine inflation, which averaged 4.4% in the first half of the year and topped the full-year 2%-4% target band, is widely expected to remain elevated in the coming months, driven by high prices of fuel and food.

Marcos, outlining on Monday his economic agenda that will focus on fiscal management, infrastructure upgrades and agricultural productivity, vowed to ensure affordable prices and adequate domestic supply of key agricultural products, including rice, amid a looming global food crisis.

READ: Marcos vows farm and tax overhauls in 1st SONA | Key points raised by Marcos in 1st SONA

Finance Secretarty Benjamin Diokno, speaking at the same forum, said the government did not need to borrow as much as it did during earlier crises, such as at the height of the pandemic.

—Reporting by Karen Lema; Writing by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Ed Davies