Interest rates held at 7% for Jamaica

Interest rates set by the Bank of Jamaica held at 7 percent for the overnight deposits, even as inflation continues to fall rapidly in the country and now running at an average of 0.20 percent per month or 2.4 percent annualised since November last year. The monetary Policy Committee determined the decision at meetings held this week.  
According to the country’s central bank, “Inflation continued to ease, consistent with Bank of Jamaica’s monetary policy and international developments. Jamaica’s inflation rate to February 2023 of 7.8 percent was below the rate of 8.1 percent at January 2023. The February outturn was the lowest rate since December 2021.”
The key external drivers of headline inflation, such as grains, fuel and shipping prices, continued to decline, broadly in line with the Bank’s expectations. In addition, inflation expectations continued to track.
Core inflation (excluding food and fuel prices from the Consumer Price Index) at February 2023 also decelerated to 6.6 percent from 7.1 percent at January 2023 and is projected to fall further as monetary policy remains tight.
Annual inflation is projected to continue to fall to the Bank’s inflation target range of 4 to 6 percent by the December 2023 quarter. One-off regulated price adjustments may, however, result in a temporary uptick in inflation.
Notwithstanding positive developments in inflation, “the MPC noted that the risks to the inflation outlook remain elevated. In a context where the domestic economy continues to grow, labour market shortages carry the potential for future wage adjustments that can put upward pressure on inflation.

BOJ holds overnight rate.

Higher inflation could also result from a worsening in supply chain conditions and higher commodity prices if there are further geo-political disruptions. Among the factors that could lead to lower-than-projected inflation, weaker-than-expected global growth could negatively affect domestic demand, and some projected adjustments to regulated prices may not materialise.”
“Therefore, to continue underpinning inflation returning to the target range and to underwrite continued stability in the foreign exchange market, the MPC unanimously agreed to hold the policy interest rate at 7 percent, to maintain tight Jamaican dollar liquidity in the money market and to continue fostering relative stability in the foreign exchange market. The Bank’s liquidity management strategy incorporates the impact of the one percentage point increase in the domestic and the foreign currency Cash Reserve Requirements applicable to DTIs, effective the beginning of April 2023.”

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