KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has launched free financial advisory and recommendations services for small and medium enterprises and home buyers who were unsuccessful in obtaining financing from banks.

Governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said the Financing Advisory Services (MyKNP) aimed to improve financing applicants’ experience, including providing greater understanding of the factors affecting their financing application, as well as help in raising their eligibility for future financing.

“It is hoped that the MyKNP initiative can raise financial consumers’ awareness and credibility to narrow the asymmetrical information gap between consumers and financial institutions,” she said during the launch of MyKNP here today.

MyKNP is a joint collaboration by BNM, Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd (CGC) and the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) to enhance the financing ecosystem.

In her speech, Shamsiah said RM152 billion in financing was disbursed to SMEs in the first half (H1) of 2019, up from RM149 billion in the corresponding period last year.

Meanwhile, housing loans totalling RM78.5 billion were approved during H1 2019, benefiting more than 180,000 borrowers.

She advised that the disbursement of loans or financing to SMEs as well as home buyers should be made with prudence and in a responsible manner.

This was to ensure that the borrowers did not borrow beyond their means to the extent of causing businesses or individuals to face financial difficulties or burden later, she added.

Shamsiah said SMEs and potential borrowers must also be responsible in assessing their ability to meet financial commitments.

Meanwhile, the governor also announced enhancements to the central bank’s RM1 billion Fund for Affordable Homes, which aims to help home buyers from the lower income group to finance the purchase of their first homes.

The enhancements, which will take effect on Sept 1, involve the expansion of the eligibility criteria. The maximum monthly household income will increase to RM4,360 from RM2,300, while the maximum property price will rise to RM300,000 from RM150,000 previously. — Bernama