13 de noviembre de 2015 / 19:09 / en 2 años

Some Colombia central bankers argued for gradual rate hike, minutes show

BOGOTA, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Some members of Colombia’s central bank board argued for a quarter-point hike in the benchmark lending rate and then more gradual increases instead of the half-point rise which surprised the market last month, minutes showed on Friday.

The seven-member policy-making board raised borrowing costs to 5.25 percent in a bid to stem inflationary pressure at its meeting on Oct. 30.

The decision was not unanimous and Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas, who represents the government on the board, among others, voted for a rise of just 25 basis points.

Those members argued that a 25-basis-point increase was “adequate” given “it’s very probable that a series of increases in the interest rate will be required because that indicates a gradual, and if necessary persistent, adjustment in the rate,” the minutes said.

President Juan Manuel Santos said last week the half-point rate hike was excessive and that policymakers should tighten rates more gradually to avoid stifling the economy.

Policymakers have raised the rate 75 basis points since September. Cardenas has said the 50-basis-points raise was possible because the risks of an economic slowdown have eased somewhat.

At the meeting the bank revised its estimate upwards for expansion of gross domestic product to 3 percent from 2.8 percent, as consumer spending and industry show signs of improvement. (Reporting by Bogota newsroom; Editing by Bill Rigby)

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