Nigeria’s Central Bank governor, Olayemi Cardoso, expects headline inflation to decline to 21.4% in 2024

Nigeria’s Central Bank governor, Olayemi Cardoso, expects headline inflation to decline to 21.4% in 2024

Olayemi Cardoso, the governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank, foresees a reduction in headline inflation to 21.4% in 2024.

Speaking at an event on Wednesday, Cardoso attributed this moderation to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) inflation-targeting policy.

This outlook aligns with his similar statement in December 2023, although the specifics of the CBN’s strategy remain unclear.

The expected decrease in inflation for 2024 holds significant implications, offering businesses a more predictable cost environment and paving the way for lower policy rates, according to Cardoso.

He contends that this shift would stimulate investment, fuel growth, and generate job opportunities.

Upcoming Monetary Policy Committee Meeting

The CBN is gearing up for its first rate-setting meeting since July 2023, scheduled for February 26-27, 2024.

Despite the challenging backdrop of headline inflation reaching a 27-year high of 28.9% in 2023, primarily driven by food inflation, the central bank is anticipated to raise interest rates.

Acting under the leadership of Folashodun Shonubi, the bank had previously raised interest rates twice. However, since the assumption of office by the new CBN governor in September, the approach has shifted.

The absence of a rate-setting meeting for four months has raised concerns among analysts and investors, especially given the naira’s trading at some of its lowest levels amid a dollar shortage.

Cardoso’s first policy speech in November highlighted concerns about the effectiveness of rate meetings due to monetary transmission mechanisms.

Mixed Signals and Economic Outlook

The governor’s silence and lack of urgency have created uncertainty, particularly in the face of economic challenges.

While the expected decline in inflation aligns with the CBN’s objectives, the execution of monetary policy has been a source of mixed signals.

The economic outlook for Nigeria in 2024, as projected by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), suggests moderate inflationary pressures.

The think tank’s report anticipates the country’s inflation rate to average 21.5% in 2024, compared to the estimated average of 24.5% in the previous year.

Factors contributing to this slowdown include lower deficit monetization, structural adjustments, relative exchange rate stability, and heightened monetary measures implemented by the Central Bank, as outlined in the report.

Navigating Economic Challenges

As Nigeria prepares for its economic journey in 2024, the delicate balance between managing inflation, stabilizing exchange rates, and implementing effective monetary measures remains a central concern.

The decisions taken by the CBN in the upcoming rate-setting meeting will play a crucial role in shaping the economic landscape and influencing investor confidence.

The nuanced challenges ahead require a strategic and well-calibrated approach to foster sustainable growth and stability.

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