BNM keeps interest rate, ringgit will stabilise, says Zeti

21 Jan 2015 / 08:37 H.

    PUTRAJAYA: The central bank will not revise interest rates for the time being, which at 3.25% is still considered highly accommodative, reflected by significant credit growth, said Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz.
    "The Malaysian economy is still on a steady growth path and if you look at the midpoint of 5%, to have a 5% growth rate under these very challenging conditions is considered very positive. Right now our monetary policy is highly accommodative," she told reporters at a dialogue session after the Prime Minister's special address on Budget 2015 yesterday.
    She said credit growth has been significant and is flowing to both households and businesses, particularly the growing volume of credit to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) while funds continue to be raised in the bond and sukuk markets.
    "All these are positive. Of course we will review from time to time, the risks to growth and the risks to inflation, and we will decide on the interest rate. At this point, the interest rate is highly accomodative," Zeti said.
    Commenting on the weakening ringgit, Zeti said the current levels of foreign exchange rate reflects temporary conditions and the rate will improve to reflect the country's strong fundamentals and the country will continue to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs).
    "These developments will occur from time to time and that is why we progressively liberalise our foreign exchange administration rules so that businesses can better manage their foreign exchange exposures.
    "When you look at capital account, every year we continue to receive FDIs and these FDIs continue to be in the region of about RM24 billion. We are still a destination for FDIs, so if we should ever have a (current account) deficit, we still have financing."
    Zeti said although short term investors may pull out of the market, Malaysia still has many long term investors such as pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and other central banks now participating in markets like Malaysia, as part of their efforts to diversify investments into emerging markets.
    "These are more stable investors so we do not expect an exodus. Nevertheless, there is reserve adequacy and we also have a more flexible exchange rate regime that will adjust. Our mandate at BNM is to maintain orderly market conditions and therefore we are there in the market to ensure we don't have abrupt adjustments over a short period of time.
    "This is because we want to support those in the real economic sector. Foreign exchange rate is a very important price to exporters and importers, to FDIs both incoming and outgoing. So in that sense, we have high confidence because we have focused on our fundamentals," she added.
    She said the strong fundamentals are reflected by the steady gross domestic product growth, inflation rate that is still very credible, low unemployment rate, high savings rate and banks that are well capitalised, which combined will support the currency when it stabilises from the current global developments.

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