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Pakistan’s central bank, in its latest policy meeting on Monday, opted to maintain its key interest rate at 22%, marking the sixth consecutive meeting without change. The decision reflects ongoing efforts to balance inflationary pressures with economic stability.

Analysts had widely anticipated this decision, acknowledging the necessity of a cautious approach amidst lingering inflation risks. Despite expectations for rate cuts in the second quarter, the bank deemed it prudent to maintain the status quo for now.

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) underscored the importance of addressing high inflation levels, reaffirming its commitment to bringing inflation down to the target range of 5–7 percent by September 2025.

This decision precedes the imminent expiry of Pakistan’s $3 billion standby arrangement with the International Monetary Fund in April. Notably, the previous rate hike in June was tied to IMF conditions for securing essential bailout funds.

While February saw a marginal easing of inflation, with the consumer price index rising 23.1% year-on-year, the SBP cautioned against potential risks from future price adjustments or fiscal measures.

The bank’s stance reflects a delicate balancing act between managing inflation and fostering economic growth. January’s decision revised inflation forecasts upward to 23%-25% for the fiscal year ending in June, attributing the increase to elevated gas and electricity prices.

Last year, Pakistan experienced record-high inflation rates, peaking at 38% in May, partly due to taxation measures aimed at meeting IMF demands. These measures, while contentious, played a crucial role in averting a sovereign debt default.

As Pakistan navigates its economic landscape amidst global uncertainties, the SBP’s decision underscores the ongoing challenges posed by inflation and the importance of maintaining a prudent monetary policy stance. Stay informed for further updates as Pakistan continues to address economic challenges while striving for stability.

photo source: Google

By: Montel Kamau

Serrari Financial Analyst

19th March, 2024

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