However, the Central Bank hiked banks’ reserve requirements in a bid to curb inflation and halt a slide in the country’s cedi currency.
Central Bank Governor Henry Kofi Wampah said the decision to raise the cash reserve requirement for commercial banks to 11 per cent from 9 per cent was intended to be a temporary measure and was adopted after a tough debate on whether to raise the policy rate again.
“The committee is of the view that the impacts from the recent monetary policies are still working through the system and so it has decided to maintain the policy rate at 18 per cent,” he told a news conference, referring to measures introduced over the last few months.
With inflation running at 14 per cent in February, Wampah revised the 2014 inflation target to around 12 per cent, above the initial target of 9.5 percent plus or minus 2 per cent outlined in the government’s annual budget in November.
The central bank governor acknowledged that pressure on economic growth from external factors remained.
Ghana’s high growth rates aided by exports of cocoa, oil and gold and its stable democracy have given it a reputation as one of Africa’s strongest economies. But the government is wrestling to restore fiscal stability.
It faces a budget deficit that stood at 10.8 per cent in 2013. The cedi currency slid around 20 per cent last year and has lost around 10 per cent since January.
Wampah said President John Mahama’s government held the key to restoring fiscal balance.
“We still believe that the major obstacle to bringing down the fiscal (deficit) is the large (public sector) wage bill and how the government deals with the wage bill,” he said.
Some analysts say the government needs to introduce fresh policies to restore fiscal balance.
Finance Minister Seth Terkper announced no new policies to tackle the deficit in a speech to parliament on Tuesday and said measures already introduced, which include subsidy cuts and new foreign exchange rules, would over time consolidate the fiscal position.
“There has been some reduction in the measured rate of inflation since the measures were introduced but we are not satisfied with that. We noted that there are still vulnerabilities,” Wampah said.