UPDATE 1-Colombia inflation worrying, will fall to goal in 2016 -cenbanker

miércoles 9 de septiembre de 2015 12:34 GYT
 

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BOGOTA, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Colombian inflation figures for August were worryingly high, but consumer prices will fall to within the central bank's 2 percent to 4 percent target range in 2016, bank board member Ana Fernanda Maiguashca said on Wednesday.

Twelve-month inflation in the Andean country reached 4.74 percent in August and has been above the target range since February.

"The figure from August was particularly high - there were some surprising components," the policymaker told journalists on the sidelines of a conference in Bogota. "Without a doubt it generates worry."

A nearly 62 percent depreciation of the peso currency and the El Nino weather phenomena, which is likely to raise food prices, are to blame for the uptick, Maiguashca said.

"The convergence [toward the goal] has probably been delayed until 2016 because of the pressures of the exchange rate and the weather phenomena, which obviously doesn't help when it comes to food."

The seven policymakers on the central bank board are divided on whether to hold the benchmark interest rate amid slowing growth or to raise it to head off inflationary pressures, minutes from both the July and August meetings show.

In August, some members argued for a hold in the rate because they believed falling growth may eventually help bring inflation back down to within the target range. Others favored the hold until more data is available.

But other members favored raising borrowing costs by 25 basis points to control inflation, minutes showed.

Analysts polled by Reuters said that Maiguashca is likely in favor of keeping the rate unchanged. The central bank does not reveal how policymakers vote. (Reporting by Carlos Vargas and Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)