KUALA LUMPUR: The Association of Banks in Malaysia (ABM) says Budget 2024 tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is comprehensive and inclusive, with emphasis on sustainable economic growth and being pro-rakyat, in support of the Madani Economy and the various policies and roadmaps that were announced recently.

“We applaud the reinforced commitment towards fiscal discipline with a target of reducing fiscal deficit to 4.3% next year,” said its chairman, Datuk Khairussaleh Ramli, who is also Maybank Group president and CEO.

He said the budget also aims to navigate the country through a new economic direction by alleviating cost of living, creating jobs, boosting global competitiveness and supporting a conducive investment climate.

“The intent to further support the underserved and unserved sustainably is clear, and we welcome the proposed increase in tax exempt spend to 35% to encourage greater social impact programmes,” he said, adding that the allocation of an additional RM10 million to enhance the effectiveness of the National Scam Response Centre (NSRC) is highly important.

“The banking industry is committed to working closely with Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) on the setting up of a national fraud portal by mid-2024, where key data collected can be used to detect patterns and connections between the accounts used by scammer,” said Khairussaleh.

The initiative to develop the National Digital Identity, he said will spur digital economic activities in the country and will certainly boost financial transactions and payment activities, apart from promoting greater efficiency and enhanced security for digital transactions. Banks are committed to participating actively in the initiative.

“The continued emphasis on Islamic finance in Budget 2024 will further Malaysia’s competitiveness in the global halal market and its capabilities to provide value based Islamic banking solutions. We also appreciate the tax incentives for Islamic securities buying and selling and for Labuan entities undertaking Islamic finance in enhancing the breadth and depth of our Islamic finance solutions,” he added.

In addressing climate resiliency, Khairussaleh said the budget remains steadfast in prioritising renewable energy, green technologies, and conservation efforts that support sustainable economic growth while ensuring a liveable environment for future generations.

“The realisation of the NETR is certainly being prioritised with the government and financial institutions coming together to provide financing of some RM200 billion to businesses as we continue Malaysia’s push towards a just transition towards a net-zero economy. We also welcome the allocation of RM2 billion National Energy Transition Facility fund to facilitate this and the possible issuance of RM1 billion biodiversity sukuk towards carbon credits,” he added.

He said helping the MSMEs continues to be emphasised with financing and guarantee schemes to the tune of RM44 billion.

Meanwhile, he added Maybank will continue to play its part in supporting Budget 2024, across various economic activities, and across all segments of the population.

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