The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) is responsible for setting and implementing monetary policy in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Bahrain maintains a fixed exchange rate regime between the Bahraini dinar and the US dollar. The exchange rate peg provides an anchor for monetary policy. Low inflation and a stable currency are important long-term features of the Bahraini economy which support a stable business environment and high levels of investment, both of domestic and foreign origin.
Bahrain has a free market economy, with no restrictions on capital movements, foreign exchange, foreign trade or foreign investment. The Kingdom has a leading position in the region as an open, free, transparent and welcoming environment for investors. The monetary policy framework is geared to support the general economic goals of the Kingdom.
Exchange Rate Policy
Bahrain maintains an exchange rate peg at 0.376 Bahraini dinars to the US dollar. The exchange rate peg provides an anchor for monetary policy, which contributes to controlling inflation and protecting the external value of the currency.
The CBB offers a foreign exchange facility, implying that it stands ready to buy and sell US dollars, at rates very close to the official exchange rate. The CBB provides this facility to retail banks located in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
The standing facilities are a set of deposit and lending instruments. The CBB offers the following standing facilities:
- Overnight deposit facility
- 1-week deposit facility
- 4-week deposit facility
- Overnight Wakalah deposit facility for Islamic retail Banks
- 1-week Wakalah deposit facility for Islamic retail Banks
- Overnight lending facility against Bahraini dinar deposits at the CBB
- Overnight repo facility against government securities
- 1-week Islamic Sukuk Liquidity Instrument (ISLI) against Government Ijara Sukuk.
The mechanism of the Islamic Sukuk Liquidity Instrument (ISLI) is based on Sale and Purchase transactions meant to help Islamic banks in managing their liquidity. It involves three separate Sukuk sale and purchase transactions requiring the existence of three parties, namely the Sukuk owner (the bank in need of liquidity), the intermediary bank (the market maker) and the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) which offers the liquidity.
The standing facilities are available to retail banks, at their discretion, from 11:00 a.m till 3:30 p.m.
Access to the 1-week and 4-week BHD deposit facilities are granted only on Tuesdays (or if Tuesday is a bank holiday, on the following business day).
-Access to the 1-week Wakalah BHD deposit facility is granted only on Tuesdays (or if Tuesday is a bank holiday, on the following business day).
The interest rates on the standing facilities are the CBB policy interest rates. The 1-week deposit rate is the CBB Key Policy Rate.
The CBB standing facilities rates are decided by a Monetary Policy Committee at the CBB. They are updated on a daily basis on the CBB website and the CBB’s Reuters and Bloomberg pages “CBOB”. The policy interest rates are updated at 10 a.m. each business day.
CBB Wakalah Facility
Wakalah Facility was launched in March 2015.
The agreement has been developed, based on a standard contract of the International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM).
The Wakalah is an investment opportunity for Islamic retail banks who wish to deposit excess liquidity with the CBB, overnight & one week.
Islamic retail banks need to sign a Wakalah agreement which appoints the CBB as an agent (Wakil) to invest cash on behalf of the bank (Muwakkil). Accordingly, the Wakil will invest these funds in the investment portfolio allocated in advance, and contains international Islamic Sukuks in US dollars and cash in Bahraini dinars.
The duration of the Wakalah is overnight & one week and is available for retail Islamic banks every Tuesday.
The Wakalah expected profit rates are decided by the Monetary Policy Committee at the CBB.
The Wakalah expected profit rates are posted on a daily basis on the CBB website and are also available in the Reuters and Bloomberg information service on its CBB page (which Reuters and Bloomberg users can find by entering the code ‘CBOB’).
- The CBB announces the Wakil offer on its pages on Reuters and Bloomberg.
- The offer will contain the issue/maturity date and the expected profit.
- Banks wishing to participate, will send the CBB an acceptance to the offer
- The CBB will invest part of the received funds in a portfolio containing Sharia compliant Sukuks and the other part will be kept in cash.
On the maturity date, the CBB will return the funds to the banks, plus the earned profit, less the transaction fees.
All retail banks operating in the Kingdom of Bahrain are required to maintain reserves deposited at the CBB amounting to 5% of the value of non-bank deposits denominated in Bahraini dinars. The CBB determines from time to time the amount and form of the reserves through its Monetary Policy Committee. The reserves are not remunerated. The required reserves are held at specific reserve accounts at the CBB and cannot be used for other purposes. The reserve requirement system contributes to adjust the CBB’s structural liquidity situation vis-à-vis the banking sector.
The reserve requirement of each retail bank is calculated by the CBB on a monthly basis, from data provided by the banks at the end of the previous month. The CBB administers the necessary fund transfers between the retail banks’ clearing account and reserve account in order to ensure that the 5% requirement is maintained at all times.
FX Swap Facility
The Central Bank of Bahrain (“CBB”) first introduced the FX Swap Facility in 2008 to ensure a smooth and effective functioning of the money market in Bahrain. The CBB offers the facility to all licensed retail banks which hold BHD accounts with the CBB. The facility allows eligible counterparties to offer US Dollars against Bahraini Dinars at the request of the counterparties on all business days. The CBB currently offers various tenors: one week, one month, three months, six months, and one year. Updates on changes to the swap points are available on CBB’s pages on both Bloomberg and Reuters.