KUALA LUMPUR: RHB Bank Bhd is aiming for a loan growth of 6% this year, compared with 3.7% last year, driven by mortgage, SME and its Singapore business, said group managing director Datuk Khairussaleh Ramli. “Singapore has not been growing for the last two years. But we believe that Singapore is now ready to grow again,” Khairussaleh told a press conference after its AGM today. Its Singapore operations incurred losses in the past two years arising from high provisioning for corporate accounts and chunky impairment losses for its oil and gas exposure. He said this year, banks will benefit from the overnight policy rate increase and see better loan growth than last year, while capital market activities should also improve. “We will see the impact of MFRS9 increasing provisions but on the business front, we believe that this year looks to be better than last year.” Khairussaleh said RHB is not expected to see any major reduction in costs hence the key focus this year is to improve its income. “So far we’ve seen good traction in the first quarter with capital market activities picking up, that’s good for our fee income. We’re slightly moderate on our loan growth, so the balance of that has to be contributed by fee income from various areas, (such as our) loan business, investment banking activities, insurance and asset management,” he explained. He pointed out that a challenge to its loan growth is corporate repayments, where it will have to do more to support repayments. Khairussaleh said the bank will allocate RM200 million for its digital programme over the next three to five years, adding that it will come out with three digital products by the first half of this year. He said 16% of its mortgage applications came through its mortgage app introduced in November. RHB’s Fit22 programme to be the top three banks in Malaysia by 2022 will focus on organic growth. It also wants to achieve a return on equity of 9-10% this year and 11.5% in five years, from 8.7% in 2017. Khairussaleh also believes that it is not timely to enter the Philippines market now and wants to focus on existing operations, with priority set on strengthening Malaysia’s operations. Separately, RHB bagged two awards at the 10th Annual Global CSR Summit & Awards 2018 held in Lombok, Indonesia. RHB won Platinum for “The Best Governed and Transparent Company Award” category under The Global Good Governance Awards; and Bronze for “Best Community Programme Award” category under The Global CSR Awards.