Bank of Uganda: Omicron casts uncertainty over economic outlook

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Bank of Uganda on Monday says the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is casting uncertainty over the country’s economic outlook.
In a monthly monetary policy statement, the Bank said the Omicron variant could further disrupt the global supply chain, which may have spillover effects, thus having a negative impact on the domestic economic performance.

The BoU revealed that a third wave of COVID-19 outbreak could trigger a need for more stringent and protracted containment measures that would drag growth down. Some contact-intensive sectors, especially education and hospitality that faced the brunt of the pandemic continue to face challenges. Import growth is expected to outpace export growth due to recovery in import-intensive household consumption and private investment. As a result, the contribution of net exports to GDP growth will be negative for an extended period.
“Although the fiscal thrust remains positive in FY2021/22, its contribution to GDP growth is lower than last financial year owing to the limited fiscal space to support further increases in government expenditure,” BoU said.
The Governor, Prof. Tumusiime Mutebile, maintained at +/-2 percentage points on the CBR and the margins on the rediscount rate and bank rate at 3 and 4 percentage points on the CBR, respectively.
Consequently, the rediscount rate and the bank rate have been maintained at 9.5 per cent and 10.5 per cent, respectively.

The Governor said the high-frequency indicators of economic activity for October and November 2021 suggest that the economy had considerable momentum into the fourth quarter.
Contact-intensive sectors, like education and hospitality, could further face the brunt of the pandemic if the infection rate increases and containment measures taken, the bank said.
He said if the government fully reopens the economy next month, as earlier promised, some of the pent-up domestic demand from the past two years would be released to stimulate the economic growth.
Risks to the growth outlook, however, remain tilted to the downside, consisting of weaker than-expected global economic growth due to supply-chain disruptions and the Omicron variant that has injected renewed uncertainty to the global economic picture. Persisting global supply chain disruptions could spawn into the domestic industry, which could weigh on the economic performance.
Annual headline inflation and annual core inflation each rose to 2.6 percent in November 2021, from 1.9 percent and 2.1 percent in October 2021, respectively. The upturn has largely been driven by rapidly rising energy and food crop prices. Energy, fuel, and utilities.

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Inflation rose to 2 percent in November 2021 from minus 0.2 percent in October 2021, food crops and related items inflation rose to 3.6 percent from 1.7 percent in the same period. Inflation forecasts in the near term amid high uncertainty, suggest that inflation will likely continue to rise as the economy recovers further and spare capacity is gradually absorbed.
The rise in inflation will also reflect strong producer price inflation domestically and abroad and import prices. In the medium-term (2-3 years ahead), as demand recovers with the full reopening of the economy and the release of pent-up demand, inflation is forecast to rise but stabilize around the 5 percent target, contingent on the evolution of the pandemic and the efficacy of vaccines.
“The BoU will continue with interventions for those sectors that remain under lockdown. Furthermore, BoU will maintain the COVID-19 Liquidity Assistance program to ensure financial stability until the economic situation normalises,” he said.

read: Poison, witchcraft scare at Bank of Uganda

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