BSP hikes interest rate to 2.25 percent as inflation accelerates

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 19 2022 03:16 PM | Updated as of May 19 2022 07:02 PM

A local government worker wears gloves while counting Philippine peso bills during a financial aid distribution program for families affected by the COVID-19 lockdown measures in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, 09 April 2021. Rolex Dela Pena, EPA-EFE/File
A local government worker wears gloves while counting Philippine peso bills during a financial aid distribution program for families affected by the COVID-19 lockdown measures in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, 09 April 2021. Rolex Dela Pena, EPA-EFE/File

MANILA - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on Thursday raised its benchmark rate by 25 basis points to 2.25 percent amid quickening inflation.

The BSP followed other central banks around the world which have also raised interest rates in an attempt to tame surging inflation as economies began to recover from pandemic-induced recessions. 

The Philippine economy grew 8.3 percent in the first quarter, beating expectations. But inflation also hit 4.9 percent in April, above the government's 2 to 4 percent target range, as food and fuel prices continued to rise.  

Latest BSP benchmark interest rates:

* Overnight Borrowing rate: 2.25 percent
* Overnight Deposit Rate: 1.75 percent
* Overnight Lending Rate: 2.75 percent 

"The Monetary Board noted that the strong rebound in domestic economic activity and labor market conditions during the first quarter of 2022 provide scope for the BSP to continue rolling back its pandemic-induced interventions, consistent with its exit strategy from monetary accommodation," BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said during the rate hike announcement.

"As the economic recovery continues to gain traction, the BSP shall proceed with its plans for the continued gradual withdrawal of its extraordinary liquidity interventions and the start of the normalization of its monetary policy settings," he added.

Diokno earlier said the policy normalization would be implemented in the second half of the year. 

Some analysts however expected a rate hike as early as this month, with BPI lead economist Jun Neri saying the key policy rate had been "kept too low for too long."

ING Bank senior economist Nicholas Mapa also said gradual rate hikes implemented sooner are better than an "aggressive" hike if the tightening would be further delayed. 

The BSP has said that it expects inflation to remain elevated due to the impact of the ongoing war in Ukraine, the policy normalization by the US Federal Reserve, as well as supply chain challenges that are pushing global commodity prices upward.

Elevated inflation pressures could persist over the policy horizon, prompting the central bank to raise its inflation forecast for the year to 4.6 percent from 4.3 percent, Diokno said. 

The BSP reiterated its support for the implementation of non-monetary interventions to mitigate the impact of supply-side factors, such as food supply, on inflation. 

This month's adjustment was the country's first rate hike in more than 3 years and the first under Diokno.

— With reports from Jessica Fenol and Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News

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