KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia should create more environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment opportunities, similar to those which have been done successfully in line with the growth of the Islamic finance market, says Maybank Investment Bank Bhd chief executive officer Fad’l Mohamed.
“We have already embarked on the ship sailing towards a more sustainable future.
“It is not a zero-sum game - indeed, sustainable investing has and continues to prove its significance to business decision makers and shareholders alike,” Fad’l said at the The Evolution of ESG Investing Conference hosted by Maybank and Bursa Malaysia Bhd here yesterday.
To date, about US$31 trillion of assets under management are invested using sustainable strategies – an increase of 35% in just two years.
In Malaysia, the ESG trend has started to take place with the country’s large asset owners, namely the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP), Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Corston-Smith Asset Management Sdn Bhd.
These companies are the signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), which demonstrated their commitment to responsible investments to advocate a more sustainable financial system.
Bursa Malaysia CEO Datuk Muhamad Umar Swift said more public-listed companies and agencies in the country were taking strong interests in ESG investing and reporting, adding that “they are making voluntary announcements and disclosure of information beyond what is mandated under the rules.”
He pointed out that “we reviewed the first batch of sustainability disclosures issued by public-listed companies with market cap of RM2bil and above and we saw an overall average compliance level of 91% among the same companies.”
Meanwhile, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin, who officiated the conference, said the government would be announcing more bids for large-scale solar (LSS) power projects worth RM2bil by the end of 2020.
“There will be some changes on how we will tender the LSS project.
“It all be more innovative and hopefully it would be able to drive the cost even lower compared to what we are seeing now,” added Yeo.
However, she did not reveal the specific details on the tenders.
Earlier this year, the Pakatan Harapan government had called for bids for projects worth RM2bil under the under the third round of the large-scale solar (LSS3) scheme to increase electricity generation from renewable energy.
Yeo noted that LSS3 would be commercialised in the next two to three years.
“Next year, we are also opening for more LSS,” she said.
Given that 719 companies have participated in the tender, she said it would be “a very fierce competition” among players.
The submission for proposals will be closed mid-August this year.
Besides that, Yeo reiterated that the government would be replacing the Environmental Quality Act 1974 with a new Act, which would be known as Pollution Control Act, pushing for stiffer punishments for those who pollute the environment.
On whether the new Act may add costs to businesses, she noted that it would not have a big impact for businesses, saying that the government would present the cost figures during a town hall meeting for the new Act next month.
In early March this year, around 6,000 Pasir Gudang residents were affected when the illegal dumping of chemical substances into Sungai Kim Kim released toxic fumes in the area.