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Philippine central bank is looking 'more closely' at possibly tweaking its monetary policy

  • The inflation path in the Philippines is rising toward the top end of the central bank's 2018 target, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla said.
  • The BSP has been looking more closely at the possibility for tweaking its monetary policy, Espenilla said.

Inflation will be a key focus for the Philippine central bank when it meets next week amid higher prices in recent months.

"Right now, we think that the inflation path is rising towards the top end of our target for 2018. But at the same time, we are looking at inflation coming back to mid-target around 2019, so we have to carefully weigh the implications of this in terms of whether it's time to tweak our monetary policy," Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor Espenilla told CNBC's Oriel Morrison.

Amid those considerations, Espenilla said the central bank was "looking more closely now than before" at the possibility of coming to such a turning point.

The BSP's policy rate has been steady since September 2014. The current 3 percent rate was set in June 2016 when the institution shifted to an interest rate corridor system.

Meanwhile, the central bank has an inflation target range of between 2 and 4 percent.

Inflation will be in focus at the BSP's next policy meeting, which is due to take place on May 10. Several analysts are expecting the central bank to raise rates, especially following the recent pickup in consumer prices.

The consumer price index rose 4.5 percent in April compared to one year ago, Reuters reported on Friday, in line with analyst expectations in a Reuters poll but accelerating from the 4.3 percent rise seen in March.

Espenilla's comments came on the back of elevated inflation in the Philippines, which the central bank governor said was being driven by supply-side factors, including food prices, the recent pickup in oil prices and some impact from tax reform.

But the BSP didn't necessarily react to those factors, he said.

"What we carefully assess is the implication of this in terms of what we call the second-round effects, how this affects the expectations of people in terms of how it drives the wage expectations and whether this will trigger, let's say, adjustments in transport fares and the like," Espenilla added.

Earlier in the week, Diwa Guinigundo, the central bank's deputy governor, said that the BSP would "not have second thoughts" if action was essential, but indicated that policymakers were not worried about the expectation-topping inflation rate, Philippine-based news site Rappler reported.