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Czech central banker Holub again likely to vote for 50 bps rate hike -E15

PRAGUE (Reuters) -Czech central banker Tomas Holub is again likely to vote for higher interest rates at the next policy meeting on March 29 on concern that the bank could miss its inflation forecast, he was quoted as saying in an interview with daily E15 on Monday.

The Czech National Bank (CNB) raised its main rate by 675 basis points between June 2021 and June 2022 but has since held it at 7%, with the revamped board having declared rate stability as its objective.

Holub voted in the minority for an increase of 50 basis points at the bank's last policy meeting on Feb. 2. He said in the interview that he was again ready to support an increase of 50 basis points at the March 29 meeting.

"It is quite likely, however, we will get February inflation and last year's wage growth data in the meantime," Holub said.

"I don't have any information to (make me) rethink my view from early February, but I cannot rule out that something will appear that will change my opinion," he said.

Holub said inflation is likely to have peaked but might recede more slowly than predicted by the central bank, which has forecast single-digit levels from mid-2023 and towards its 2% target early in 2024.

Annual inflation accelerated to 17.5% in January but is expected to have begun to drop this month, with Holub predicting that it could still be around 5% in early 2024.

"My nightmare is that early next year, instead of thoughts about getting rates down fast to around 4% from 7%, we will tell ourselves: unfortunately, it was not enough and we have to stick to (a base interest rate of) 7% for another year," Holub said.

(Reporting by Robert MullerEditing by David Goodman)