Philippines central bank chief says policy easing not on radar screen

MANILA (Reuters) – Easing monetary policy is not on the Philippine central bank’s radar screen given upside risks to inflation, its governor said on Tuesday.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) chief Eli Remolona, speaking at a gathering with newspaper editors, said sudden policy changes were not advisable because “quick reversals in policy rates … create uncertainty”.

The central bank has kept its benchmark interest rate steady at 6.25% for three straight meetings, after a series of hikes totalling 425 basis points since last year, as it balances the need to support growth while keeping inflation in check.

Remolona said the BSP will be data-dependent in its policy-setting, when asked how the central bank will respond if U.S. Federal Reserve raises interest rates further at next month’s meeting.

The BSP is scheduled to review its policy settings on Sept. 21.

The Fed, however, is likely done raising interest rates, according to a majority of economists polled by Reuters between Aug 14-18.

Remolona said the central bank expects economic growth this year to hit the low end of the government’s 6%-7% target, despite the slower expansion in the second quarter.

A further reduction in the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) is possible late in the year, he said.

The RRR for big lenders was reduced by 250 basis points to 9.5% in June to offset the end of liquidity-enhancing relief measures for banks during the pandemic.

(Reporting by Karen Lema; writing by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Christina Fincher)