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Budget 2022: Reactions from the banking sector

KUALA LUMPUR: The banking sector has reacted positively to the initiatives included in Budget 2022, which has been lauded as expansionary and with the Rakyat’s well-being in mind.

In a statement, Public Bank Bhd chairman emeritus Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow said the Budget is appropriately balanced between reducing income inequality, expanding on targeted assistance to households and businesses, and investing into the nation’s healthcare and basic infrastructure.

He made particular reference to the allocation of RM8.2bil to the newly introduced Bantuan Keluarga Malaysia programme to benefit 9.6 million recipients and RM4.8bil to create 600,000 employment opportunities.

Teh noted also the government allocation towards enhancing digital and technological infrastructure with RM30mil going towards Internet access to 40 low-cost housing schemes and RM700mil towards ensuring digital connectivity in industrial areas and schools in rural areas.

“It is important that no one is left behind in the eventual unfolding of this new age of development,” he said.

CIMB Group CEO Datuk Abdul Rahman Ahmad meanwhile highlighted the initiative to encourage economic growth while minimising harm to the environment and communities.

“Through Budget 2022, the government has reiterated its goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and doubled down on its commitment towards driving

the environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda,” he said.

This commitment includes ensuring alignment with green budgeting to ensure development projects and programmes that support climate resilience, and the provision of financing to support the low carbon transition.

Abdul Rahman added that access to financing for MSMEs and the informal sector, as well as measures to promote inclusivity by reducing the income gap and development gap will lead to greater income, wealth and social equity among the rakyat.

RHB Banking Group group managing director and CEO Datuk Khairussaleh Ramli noted the support for the B40 segment as well as the focus on accelerating the economy with higher allocations for small-scale projects as well as support for SMEs.

“The focus on consumer discretionary spending, coupled with the higher allocation for development as well as capital expenditure by the non-financial public corporations (NFPC), would be positive for infrastructure-related segment of the economy.

“This would result in large multiplier effects on economic activity. As a financial services group, RHB will play our part to support economic recovery and development, in particular the growth of SMEs,” he said.

Kahirussaleh also applauded the drive towards sustainable practices through increased diversity practices and empowering women, as well as the country’s aspiration towards becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Standard Chartered managing director and CEO Abrar A. Anwar praised the women empowerment agenda in the Budget, citing subsidies to women’s health and the RM2bil JaminKerja wage incentives for women returning to the workplace, as well as a one-woman minimum requirement on the boards of public-listed companies.

“We also welcome the government’s allocation of RM230mil for women entrepreneurs through the Dananita Programme under TEKUN to lift and drive greater economic participation of women entrepreneurs.

“Raising productivity and enhancing human capital amongst women are key to putting our economy back on track,” he said.

On initiatives to spur digitalisation, he said the bank was positive on the establishment of the Technology Park Malaysia, which will benefit future technopreneurs.

“Aspiring entrepreneurs will also benefit from National Regulatory Sandbox under MOF along with the MyStartup strategy under MyDIGITAL initiative and the MYR45 million allocation for SMEs under Industry4WRD,” he added.

OCBC Bank (M) Bhd CEO Datuk Ong Eng Bin welcomed the Budget’s initiative in providing individuals and businesses even as the economy improves.

He added that the initiatives to address climate change issues and other sustainability-related measures are timely, with the banking sector in a position to play a key role in rebuilding efforts.

“There is every reason to be optimistic about the future as the building blocks are in place,” he added.

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