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(Xinhua) -- The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) on Wednesday maintained the benchmark lending rate at 9 percent due to the relatively stable inflation rate.

 

Patrick Njoroge, CBK governor, who chaired the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Nairobi said that the inflation expectations remained well anchored within the target range, and that the economy was operating close to its potential.

 

"The MPC will continue to closely monitor developments in the global and domestic economy, including any perverse response to its previous decisions, and stands ready to take additional measures as necessary," Njoroge said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The monetary policy organ met to review the outcome of its previous policy decisions as well as the recent economic developments against a backdrop of domestic macroeconomic stability, increased optimism on the economic growth prospects, and increased global uncertainties.

 

Njoroge said there is need to be vigilant on the possible effects of the recent increases in fuel prices, the ongoing demonetization, and the increased uncertainties in the external environment.

 

The committee noted the gradual demonetization through the withdrawal of the older 1,000 shilling notes (10 U.S. dollars) and the close monitoring by CBK will ensure that the process is not disruptive to the economy.

 

The governor noted that month-on-month overall inflation remained relatively stable and within the target range in May and June 2019.

 

"The inflation rate stood at 5.7 percent in June compared to 5.5 percent in May. However, food inflation rose to 6.6 percent in June from 6.0 percent in May, reflecting increases in the prices of non-vegetable food crops particularly maize, due to uncertain supply," Njoroge said.

 

According to the MPC, non-food-non-fuel inflation remained below 5 percent, indicative of muted demand pressures and spillover effects of the recent rise in fuel prices.

 

"Overall inflation is expected to remain within the target range in the near term largely due to expectations of lower food prices following improved weather conditions, and lower electricity prices with the reduced reliance on expensive power sources," Njoroge observed.

 

The governor added that the economy remained strong in the first quarter of 2019, despite the effects of the delayed long rains on agricultural production.

 

The MPC noted that the leading indicators of economic activity point to stronger growth in the second quarter of 2019.

 

"Consequently, growth in 2019 is expected to remain strong, supported by agricultural production, strong growth of micro, small medium enterprises and the service sector, foreign direct investment, and a stable macroeconomic environment," he added.

 

The apex bank said that the real GDP growth stood at 5.6 percent, reflecting a stronger than expected performance of agriculture and a resilient services sector, particularly information and communication, accommodation and restaurants, and transport and storage.

 

Njoroge added that the alignment of the 2019/20 financial year government budget to the Big 4 priority sectors is expected to boost economic activity in manufacturing, agriculture, construction and real estate, and health sectors. Enditem

 

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