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Reserve Bank to make policy by committee, adds employment

NZ Reserve Bank to make policy by committee, adds employment to inflation mandate

By Jonathan Underhill

March 26 (BusinessDesk) - The Reserve Bank of New Zealand will explicitly include employment in its policy targets, ending a sole focus on price stability, and the bank will move to policy by committee instead of leaving interest rate decisions to the governor alone.

The changes were outlined as Finance Minister Grant Robertson and governor-designate Adrian Orr signed a new policy targets agreement. The new PTA re-iterates the goal of keeping annual CPI inflation between 1 percent and 3 percent over the medium term, with a focus on the mid-point of 2 percent. But along with a goal of maintaining price stability, the central bank will have a goal of "supporting maximum sustainable employment within the economy," the new PTA says.

"The Reserve Bank’s flexible inflation targeting regime has long included employment and output variability in its deliberations on interest rate decisions," Orr said in a joint statement. "What this PTA does is make it an explicit expectation that the bank accounts for that consideration transparently."

The announcement also includes the first phase of a review of the Reserve Bank Act including a new monetary policy committee (MPC) for decision making. At present policy decisions are the final call of the governor alone although in practice the bank's internal governing committee has made decisions on monetary policy.

Robertson said a bill will be introduced to Parliament in the coming months to implement the Cabinet’s decisions on recommendations from Phase 1 of the review. "As well as legislating for the dual mandate, this will include the creation of a committee for monetary policy decisions," he said.

"While the single focus on price stability has generally served New Zealand well, there have been significant changes to the New Zealand economy and to monetary policy practices since it was enacted," Robertson said. The MPC will have seven members - four internal at the bank and three external, along with a non-voting observer from the Treasury.

"The importance of monetary policy as a tool to support the real, productive, economy has been evolving and will be recognised in New Zealand law by adding employment outcomes alongside price stability as a dual mandate for the Reserve Bank, as seen in countries like the US, Australia and Norway," he said.

Phase 2 of the review of the RBNZ Act "is being scoped. It will focus on the Reserve Bank’s financial stability role and broader governance reform. Announcements on the final scope will be made by mid-2018 and subsequent policy work will commence in the second half of 2018."

(BusinessDesk)

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