Daily The Business

SBP cut policy rate by further 150 basis points

M jahangir Hayat

LAHORE: The State Bank of Pakistan Monetory Policy Committee (MPC) has
decided to cut the policy rate by a further 150 basis points to 11
percent which brings the cumulative easing over the past one week to
225 basis points.
At its last meeting on 17thMarch 2020, the Monetary Policy Committee
(MPC) noted considerable uncertainty about how the Coronavirus
outbreak would impact the global economy and Pakistan.In the statement
issued following that meeting, the MPC “emphasized that it stood ready
to take further actions if and when needed as more information becomes
available on the outlook for inflation and growth.”
Substantial new information on global and domestic developments has
become available since the last MPC meeting. Globally, the Coronavirus
has severely increased in reach. This has caused major disruptions to
economic activity and the IMF has also significantly downgraded its
global growth outlook for 2020 from 3.3 percent growth previously to
below zero. These global developments have also led to a sharp fall in
international trade. On the domestic front, since the last MPC, the
number of COVID-19 cases has increased considerably, prompting social
distancing and curtailment of activity. This is expected to lead to
noticeable slowdown in domestic demand.
The developments discussed above imply that the outlook for growth and
inflation in Pakistan is likely to be revised down further. In the
wake of this new information, the MPC agreed at its emergency meeting
today, to take further action. Accordingly, the MPC has decided to cut
the policy rate by a further 150 basis points to 11 percent. This
brings the cumulative easing over the past one week to 225 basis
points. The MPC was of the view that this cumulative easing would
cushion the growth slowdown while protecting inflation expectations.
The MPC also noted that SBP is in the process of taking necessary
regulatory measures in coordination with banks to address pressures on
cash flows of borrowers affected by Coronavirus related disruptions
through facilitating deferment and restructuring of their loans. The
announcement of these measures is expected soon and will complement
the action being taken by the MPC on interest rates today.
The MPC remains ready to take whatever further actions become
necessary in response to the evolving economic impact of the
Coronavirus.

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