Karachi September 20 2021: At its meeting on 20th September 2021, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to raise the policy rate by 25 basis points to 7.25 percent. Since its last meeting in July, the MPC noted that the pace of the economic recovery has exceeded expectations. This robust recovery in domestic demand, coupled with higher international commodity prices, is leading to a strong pick-up in imports and a rise in the current account deficit. While year-on-year inflation has declined since June, rising demand pressures together with higher imported inflation could begin to manifest in inflation readings later in the fiscal year. With growing signs that the latest Covid wave in Pakistan remains contained, continued progress in vaccination, and overall deft management of the pandemic by the Government, the economic recovery now appears less vulnerable to pandemic-related uncertainty. As a result, at this more mature stage of the recovery, a greater emphasis is needed on ensuring the appropriate policy mix to protect the longevity of growth, keep inflation expectations anchored, and slow the growth in the current account deficit.
A L S O || R E A D
In line with this shift in the economic outlook, the MPC was of the view that the priority of monetary policy also needed to gradually pivot from catalyzing the recovery after the Covid shock toward sustaining it. As foreshadowed in previous monetary policy statements, the MPC noted that this rebalancing would be best achieved by gradually tapering the significant monetary stimulus provided over the last 18 months. The MPC noted that over the last few months the burden of adjusting to the rising current account deficit had fallen primarily on the exchange rate and it was appropriate for other adjustment tools, including interest rates, to also play their due role.
The MPC noted that the stance of monetary policy is still appropriately supportive of growth, with real interest rates remaining negative on a forward-looking basis. Looking ahead, in the absence of unforeseen circumstances, the MPC expects monetary policy to remain accommodative in the near term, with possible further gradual tapering of stimulus to achieve mildly positive real interest rates over time. The pace of this possible further gradual tapering would be informed by updated information on the continued strength of demand growth and the stance of fiscal policy, amongst other factors.
In reaching its decision, the MPC considered key trends and prospects in the real, external and fiscal sectors, and the resulting outlook for monetary conditions and inflation.