Interest rates on hold

Governor Gill Marcus made the announcement at the Sarb headquarters in Pretoria.

Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - The repo rate will remain unchanged at 5 percent, South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) Governor Gill Marcus announced on Thursday.

The prime lending rate will stay flat at 8.5 percent.

Marcus says while the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is keeping interest rates on hold for now, she will not hesitate to act if inflation stays consistently above the target level.

"Should the risks to the medium-term inflation outlook deteriorate significantly, the MPC will not hesitate to take appropriate action in order to maintain the integrity of the inflation targeting framework and to enact the expectations at a lower level."

On Wednesday, consumer price inflation index figures showed that the prices of goods rose by 6.4 percent in August, a figure well above Sarb's inflation target of between three and six percent.

Marcus says she's also worried that not enough jobs are being created.

Employment in the manufacturing and mining sectors has also been in decline.

"Consumers remain under pressure with persistently high debt to disposable income ratios," she adds.

Marcus also says that some figures may not properly reflect the real situation with an apparent increase in productivity likely reflecting job losses and more "capital-intensive production" rather than healthy growth.

The bank says its forecast for economic growth hasn't changed over the past two months.

She says the MPC made the decision based on "global uncertainties and downside growth risks."

The decision means rates will remain steady at four-decade lows.