Two Colombia central bank policymakers urged rate cut amid uncertainty -minutes | Reuters

Two members of Colombia’s central bank board argued for a rate cut of 25 basis points at the board’s meeting last week, minutes showed on Monday, amid concerns over new coronavirus restrictions and their effect on economic recovery.

The seven member central bank board has held the benchmark interest rate at 1.75% for four consecutive months. The January decision to leave the rate unchanged was backed by the other five policymakers.

Those who voted for the rate hold want the board to focus on keeping inflation in check, the minutes published on Monday showed.

Consumer price growth ended last year at a low 1.61%, but is expected to rise from the second quarter, finishing 2021 at 2.7%, a figure much closer to the bank’s long-term 3% target.

The minority group said low inflation allows for more support for economic recovery.

“They highlighted inflation data is at historical lows and a lower inflation rate is anticipated on the policy horizon, which opens a space to support the recovery of the economy with a more expansive policy,” the minutes said.

The two board members “noted their concern” about Colombia’s second peak of coronavirus cases “and its possible effects, along with closures and restrictions, on economic activity,” the minutes added.

Local governments in large cities recently put in place shopping restrictions and curfews as cases soared after the Christmas holidays and intensive care unit occupancy exceeded 90%.

The Andean country has recorded more than 2.1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 54,000 deaths, despite five months of national lockdown in 2020.

The central bank is expected to publish its quarterly economic report later on Monday. (Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb and Nelson Bocanegra; editing by Richard Pullin)

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