In light of high confidence and large foreign deposits, Jordan's Central Bank lowers interest rates
The Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) has decided to reduce the interest rates on key monetary policy tools by 25 basis points (0.25 per cent) from Tuesday signaling lower rates at commercial banks.
According to economists, the move is a sign of sound confidence in the local currency and an indication of a high level of foreign currency deposits at the CBJ.
“It is a good decision that reflects the stability of the Jordanian dinar and will help build up confidence in the country’s investment environment and reduce borrowing costs,” Economist Yusuf Mansur told The Jordan Times.
Under the decision, the rediscount rate will be lowered to 4.5 per cent from 4.75 per cent, the overnight repurchase agreement rate will go down to 4.25 from 4.5 per cent and that of one week (or more) will drop to 3.75 per cent from 4 per cent, annually.
Furthermore, the deposit window interest rate will drop to 3.5 per cent from 3.75 per cent, annually.
Sawsan Arouri, German Development Bank (KFW) deputy director shared Mansur’s view, saying: “Definitely, it is a positive decision and it will propel the market and the investment environment”.
“Maybe that will take some time, but it is a step on the right track,” she added.
Adli Kandah, director general of the Association of Banks in Jordan, said the decision seeks to encourage banks to reduce market interest rates on loans, credit facilities and deposits to propel economic growth. It is an indicator that CBJ inflation concerns have diminished.
Emphasising the importance of new types of investments channelled into the country, through the World Bank and external funds, he hailed the CBJ decision as a major step.
“Yet, we need other incentives. The Ministry of Finance should increase capital expenditures in the last quarter of this year in parallel to the CBJ decision and the private sector should have bankable projects to stimulate banks to extend credit for them.”
The CBJ’s decision will apply to new credit facilities granted to targeted sectors via banks so that investors can obtain funds needed for medium and long terms, at appropriate interest rates, in line with the CBJ lowered rates, a CBJ statement indicated.
This will lower the refinance rate for these sectors to 2.5 per cent from 2.75 per cent, the CBJ statement said. Furthermore, the loan tenor granted under the CBJ programme to the renewable energy sector will become 10 years while that for industry and tourism projects will remain unchanged, at 5 years.
In its statement, the CBJ said it will continue to support projects through assisting small- and medium-scale enterprises, financed by the World Bank and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development for which $120 million have been allocated.
Of the figure, the sum of $48 million has been transferred to banks at a 2.5 per cent interest rate for this year (2013) for a period of 15 years, and at a 5-year grace period.
With Monday’s decision, CBJ key interest rates will have dropped by 50 basis points since the beginning of this year.
Separately, CBJ’s assets of gold and foreign currency amounted to around JD10 billion at the end of September this year, according to the Jordan news Agency, Petra.
According to data published in the Official Gazette, assets in foreign currency totalled JD9,994 million, of which cash, bank accounts and deposits amounted to JD3,575 million. Foreign securities on the basis of amortised cost stood at JD3,798 million and gold at JD446 million.
The data showed total assets in the local currency stood at JD2,319 million, bringing up the total assets in their aggregate to around JD12.3 billion at the end of September 2013, according to Petra.
By: Rushi Saddiqi
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