Budget 2022 to set tone for ringgit

Bank Islam chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said the strong commodities performance has helped to boost the ringgit.

KUALA LUMPUR: Investors will keep a close tab on Budget 2022 which will be tabled in Parliament on Oct 29 by Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz, as it could be a decisive factor in determining their confidence with regards to the ringgit’s performance.

In early January 2021, the domestic unit breached the 4.00-level against the US dollar, depreciating to a year-to-date low of 4.24 mid-August before regaining its grounds to trade at the current level of between 4.14 and 4.19.

Bank Islam chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said the strong commodities performance has helped to boost the ringgit.

He noted that three commodities, namely crude oil, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and crude palm oil (CPO) have remained at elevated levels.

"This should help to some degree, providing fiscal space for the government while being a catalyst for an improved capital expenditure plan among the oil and gas players,” he said.

"Perhaps the upcoming budget announcement would shed more light on how the government plans to reduce the budget gap, given that the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) has indicated a fiscal shorfall of 3.0 per cent - 3.5 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025 as opposed to the 2022 estimates of 6.5 per cent - 7.0 per cent," he told Bernama.

The 12MP is a five-year roadmap for the country’s development, with an annual GDP growth target of between 4.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent from 2021-2025.

Meanwhile, ActivTrades forex analyst Dyogenes Rodrigues Diniz believes the ringgit could hit the 4.10 level against the US dollar for the rest of the year.

He said the 12MP is aligned with the global goals of sustainable economic development and greater social equity -- positive pull factors for foreign investors to invest in Malaysia.

"As a currency pair, we also need to understand the US dollar situation. The recent announcement by the Federal Reserve (Fed) that it will not raise the interest rate for the US dollar until 2023 could weaken the currency.

"So, in general, we are talking about a simultaneous ringgit appreciation and a possible greenback depreciation, which could be good for Malaysia," said Diniz.

He also noted that the local unit has been appreciating against major counterparts in the past few months.

"However, the uptrend is not quite significant, given the uncertainties due to the onslaught of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in the region.

"Still, I see that the recovery is positive and the speed of this appreciation is also important as greater exchange rate stability provides more predictability for international trade," he said, adding that an excessively rapid appreciation of the ringgit could affect the trade balance. - Bernama
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