Malawi central bank left its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 22.5 percent on Tuesday, citing mainly the uncertain outlook for inflation.
“Some risks still remain to the inflation outlook,” the Reserve Bank of Malawi said in a statement posted on its website, singling out uncertainty in the food sector and the country’s budget.
“The committee therefore noted that fiscal consolidation will be crucial to ensuring that inflationary pressures are contained.
The Reserve Bank of Malawi was established under an Act of Parliament in July 1964 (Chapter 44:02 Laws of Malawi) and started its operations in June, 1965 in Blantyre. It replaced a branch of the Federal Bank of Rhodesia and Nyasaland founded to serve as a central bank of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The federation comprised Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Nyasaland (now Malawi)
At inception, the Bank had total assets amounting to K15.96 million with foreign assets amounting to K15.2 million an equivalent of £8.8 million, representing 18.1 percent of the federal currency which was redeemed in Malawi. By 1981, the year its head office moved to Lilongwe, the Reserve Bank of Malawi had expanded its operations when total assets increased to K230.7 million with foreign assets amounting to K43.9 million.
In April, 1989, the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Act was revised stipulating the Bank’s principal functions which are in the interest of the national economy and are in line with the economic policies of the government. Before the revision of the Act, the Reserve Bank of Malawi reported to the Treasury. The 1989 RBM Act, however, made the Reserve Bank of Malawi independent from government under section 4. With this independence, the Reserve Bank of Malawi has the full mandate to conduct monetary policy whereas fiscal policy issues are the mandate of the Ministry of Finance. The Reserve Bank of Malawi therefore has to ensure that fiscal developments are consistent with monetary developments.
In 1990, the Reserve Bank of Malawi clocked 25 years of its operations with total assets amounting to K1.03 billion and foreign assets accounting for K324.5 million. By the close of 1998, total assets of the Bank registered a high of K18.8 billion with foreign assets amounting to K11.3 billion. The operations of the Bank have therefore expanded during the years more especially with the growth of the financial sector. This necessitated the building of a new and spacious branch office in Blantyre which was officially opened in November, 1998.