Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Johannesburg - The South African Reserve Bank’s loss widened in the 12 months through March as the cost of introducing new banknotes increased expenses and low global interest rates curbed income.

The loss grew to 1.6 billion rand from a restated 1.3 billion rand a year earlier, the central bank said in its annual report released today in Pretoria, the capital.

The Reserve Bank introduced a new series of banknotes bearing the image of former President Nelson Mandela two years ago.

“Net interest income earned on the country’s foreign- exchange reserves remained constrained by low global interest rates as monetary policy in advanced economies remained highly accommodative,” the central bank said.

“Costs increased, in particular those associated with the introduction of the new currency in 2012, which were carried over to the following financial year.”

The rand has weakened 20 percent against the dollar since the start of last year, the worst performer among 16 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg, as investors sold South African bonds after the US Federal Reserve started preparing to reduce its asset-purchase program.

Currency reserves rose 13 percent in the year through March to 555.7 billion rand.

Gross reserves were $49.2 billion at the end of May, the bank said this month.

The euro accounts for 21 percent of total reserves held by the central bank compared with 14 percent a year earlier.

The dollar makes up 42 percent of holdings compared with 53 percent a year before. - Bloomberg News