August 1, 2016 / 1:48 PM / in 2 years

Colombia's Santos says central bank vote was 4-3 in favor of rate raise

BOGOTA, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos said on Monday that four members of the central bank’s policy board voted to raise the key interest rate last week, while the other three wanted the level held steady.

The tight vote reflects the division that has opened up within the board compared with the meeting in June, when only one member called for the interest rate to be held.

The voting is usually secret and the board independent, but Santos called for the members to keep the rate at 7.50 percent just before the monthly meeting started on Friday. The bank raised the rate to 7.75 percent.

Policymakers have struggled to bring down stubborn inflation that reached 8.6 percent in June as drought, a weakened currency and a truckers strike pressured prices.

“I hope it’s the final time the rate is raised because it’s beginning to affect growth and have social and economic repercussions that are negative versus the sole objective of combating inflation,” Santos said on local radio.

The bank has raised the rate 325 basis points since September in an effort to bring the inflation rate down to within the target range of 2-4 percent. (Reporting by Monica Garcia and Nelson Bocanegra; Writing by Helen Murphy; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

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