By Omotilewa Quadri
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Wednesday that annual inflation in Nigeria, last month, fell to its lowest level in almost a year.
It is also said to have slowed for a 13th month in a row led by decelerating food prices.
Statistician General of NBS, Yemi Kale, said in January he expected inflation to fall faster this year, but that spending ahead of 2019 presidential elections could stoke prices.
Core inflation was 14.33 percent in February, its lowest since last April, down from 15.13 percent in January. The food price index showed inflation of 17.59 percent in February versus 18.92 percent in January.
Food price inflation has remained in high double digits over the last year. Kale has said the country is in a harvest period and output is increasing, which would help lower food prices, but household consumption remains fragile after the 2016 recession.
The Central Bank of Nigeria, Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has not been able to meet or change rates since the beginning of the year because the upper house of parliament has held up some of President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominees, so there was no quorum.
This political spat may be coming to an end, with the possibility of a rate-setting meeting as early as next Tuesday.
The bank has kept its main interest rate at 14 percent for over a year as it battles inflation and seeks to attract foreign investors to support the naira currency.
But economists see the central bank this year adopting a more dovish stance as inflation falls, and expect an interest rate cut in the coming months.
Nigeria is continuing its slow climb out of recession since the second quarter of 2017, but the International Monetary Fund warned in a report last month that the average person is getting poorer, as gross domestic product per capita is still falling – meaning the economy’s gains are not keeping up with the rising population.
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