Tengku Zafrul: Govt's proactive monetary policy ensures stable ringgit, financial market

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government remains proactive in ensuring the stability of the ringgit and the financial market, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz told the Dewan Negara today.

He said the government, through Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), maintains domestic financial stability through the implementation of prudent monetary policies, including minimising the exposure of the federal government’s debt to the risk of currency fluctuations through the setting of foreign loan limits.

"We also ensure that the flexible exchange policy remains Malaysia’s first line of defence to absorb external shocks, while at the same time, ensuring that domestic lending activities continue to be supported,” he said in reply to Senator Jefridin Atan’s supplementary question on the government’s measures to minimise the impact of aggressive monetary tightening measures by the United States Federal Reserve (Fed).

In addition, the government also maintains the strength of BNM’s international reserves estimated at US$109 billion (US$1=RM4.44) as a liquidity buffer to ensure an orderly adjustment of the ringgit’s exchange rate, especially during periods of large and uncertain capital flows, the minister noted.

"Lastly, we must ensure that Malaysia’s banking institutions remain resilient against external and domestic risks through robust risk management practices,” he said.

The value of the ringgit decreased by 6.5 per cent against the US dollar from January to August 9, 2022, in line with the movement of regional currencies and developed countries.

He said various other national currencies also depreciated at a higher rate compared to the US dollar in the same period.

"This includes countries in Asia such as South Korea, which has fallen by nine per cent, the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan as well as countries that are closer to us such as the Philippines,” he said.

Tengku Zafrul said the ringgit’s value performance needs to be looked at holistically and opined that on average, the ringgit’s exchange rate is not too affected compared to Malaysia’s trading partner currencies.

He answered additional questions about the external factors that caused the value of the ringgit to continue to decline in addition to the strengthening factor of the US dollar.

He stated several external factors that caused the value of the ringgit to decline in line with most other major and regional currencies.

"Firstly, the sudden increase in inflationary pressures especially in the United States, where we can see inflation rising by approximately nine per cent. This has prompted the Fed as well as several central banks to increase policy rates faster which can lead to the financial environment being tighter globally.

"The second factor is the geo-political situation in Russia and Ukraine, and the third factor is the economic slowdown in China, because China is Malaysia’s main trading partner and its conservative COVID-19 policy has caused the supply chain to be somewhat disrupted,” he said. - Bernama

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