At the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting today, Bank Negara Malaysia decided to maintain the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) at 2.75 percent.
The recovery of the global economy is continuing, although the growth performance differs markedly across regions. While the advanced economies continue to register modest growth, most emerging economies have experienced strong growth. For the Asian region, while growth has moderated amid weaker external demand, domestic economic activity continues to provide strong support to the growth momentum. However, shifts in global liquidity have resulted in significant capital flows into the emerging economies, in particular, into the Asian region, and have brought with it risks to macroeconomic and financial stability. The region is also being affected by global inflationary pressures arising from the higher commodity and food prices.
In the domestic economy, recent indicators point towards a sustained expansion in private sector activity in the fourth quarter of 2010. External demand, however, was affected by the slower global growth. Going forward, the Malaysian economy is expected to grow at a steady pace in 2011, underpinned by continued firm expansion in domestic demand amid more moderate external demand. Private consumption will be supported by sustained employment and income growth, while the favourable outlook in the domestic-oriented sectors and the expansion of new growth industries will provide support for continued private investment activity.
While domestic headline inflation rose towards the end of 2010, it has remained low at 2.2%. The increase was mainly on account of higher food and energy prices. Prices are expected to increase at a modest pace in the coming months, driven primarily by rising global commodity and food prices. The assessment is that inflation will continue to be driven by supply factors with limited evidence of excess demand exerting pressure on prices.
At this stage, the MPC considers the current monetary policy stance as appropriate and consistent with the current assessment of the economic growth and inflation prospects. The stance of monetary policy continues to remain accommodative and supportive of economic growth. However, the large and volatile shifts in global liquidity are leading to a build up of liquidity in the domestic financial system. While the liquidity in the financial system has been manageable, going forward, additional policy tools such as the statutory reserve requirement and macroprudential lending measures may be considered to avoid the risks of macroeconomic and financial imbalances.