PM calls on banks to continue to help individuals, SMEs

30 Jun 2023 11:17am
Anwar Ibrahim - Photo by Bernama
Anwar Ibrahim - Photo by Bernama
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KUALA LUMPUR - The government has called on banks to continue to offer loan repayment assistance to individuals and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in need, including assistance in scheduling and restructuring their loans.

At the same time, troubled borrowers can get free advice and loan repayment assistance through the Credit Counseling and Management Agency (AKPK).

"I am satisfied with the commitment shown by banking institutions that are ready to help the people and SMEs," Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is also Finance Minister, said in a statement today.

He also reminded the banking industry that they play an important role in driving post-pandemic economic growth, especially in helping borrowers who are still affected and have difficulty moving on with their lives.

The statement followed a dialogue session with representatives of the banking sector as part of the government's ongoing efforts to obtain ideas and views related to the national economy from all walks of life held on June 28, 2023.

The dialogue session was attended by the Deputy Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia Datuk Jessica Chew, as well as representatives from leading banks such as AMBank, Al-Rahji Bank, Bank Islam Malaysia, CIMB, HSBC Bank, Maybank, Public Bank, RHB Bank and Standard Chartered Bank.

Anwar said the banking industry needs to continue to support the development of micro-entrepreneurs, especially the vulnerable, through initiatives such as i-TEKAD which offers start-up capital and micro-financing by using a combination of funds from financial institutions and social finance funds such as zakat.

The representatives of the banking industry present also agreed that the focus is now on efforts to drive the transition towards a net zero carbon country as well as a wider digitalisation agenda. The discussion also touched on new growth areas that can strengthen Malaysia's value proposition among regional and global investors.

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"While the government is formulating the Madani Economic Narrative, including identifying priority sectors for the country's future growth and investment, we must also ensure that the financial industry and the capital market innovate in line with the changing global landscape.

"I also call for the financial industry to bring fresh ideas in maintaining Malaysia as a global leader in Islamic finance as well as building the strength of the E&E (electrical and electronics) sector," he added.

Malaysia' sovereign rating maintained at "​​​​​​A-"

Among other things, the discussion touched on policies to ensure the financial industry in Malaysia remains relevant and inclusive in supporting sustainable economic growth.

"The maintenance of Malaysia's sovereign credit rating at 'A-' with a "Stable" outlook by S&P Global Ratings (S&P) recently proves that the country's economic direction is on the right track following various efforts taken to support growth momentum and reduce inflationary pressure," said Anwar.

S&P on Tuesday explained that the rationale for maintaining the rating was driven by Malaysia's strong external position and the flexibility of its monetary policy, as well as a rapid rate of economic growth compared to its peers. Meanwhile, the stable outlook reflects the strength of the country's growth momentum as well as the strength of its external position for the next two years. S&P also acknowledged the existence of political commitment to continue post-pandemic fiscal consolidation measures.

"However, I understand that this strengthening of the economy may not be fully felt by the people who are still struggling with the cost of living and also SMEs that are recovering from the pandemic.

"Therefore, the government is determined to further enhance efforts in boosting the momentum of economic growth and implement fiscal consolidation to ensure the wellbeing of the people and the continuity of business in line with the concept of Malaysia Madani," he added.

This is the third such session held with the Prime Minister. Previously the Prime Minister had met with business leaders and economic experts.

All shared views will be used to form the Madani Economic Narrative which is being drafted to chart the direction of the country's economy in the medium and long term, and will be launched in August this year.

Economic policies and priorities under the Unity Government will also be further elaborated in the Industrial Master Plan (in August 2023), the Half-Term Review of the 12th Malaysia Plan (September 2023) and Budget 2024 (October 2023). - BERNAMA