Domestic economy grew 2.6pc in first half of 2020

Azlan Othman

The domestic economy grew by 2.6 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2020, Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) stated in its bi-annual policy statement on Thursday for the second half of 2020.

AMBD’s inflation forecast for 2020 remains in the range of one per cent to two per cent with inflation in 2021 forecast to be in the range of zero per cent to one per cent. AMBD highlighted that the overall risk level of the banking sector for Q3 2020 was lower compared to Q2 2020.

The banking sector maintained high capital buffers and remained liquid with improved asset quality. However, the sector experienced a decline in profitability.

AMBD recently launched its first quarterly publication on retail lending rates offered by the banking sector on AMBD’s website.

As part of AMBD’s continuous efforts to improve the supervision of the banking sector, it has established the Domestic Systemically Important Bank (D-SIB) framework to identify the D-SIB(s) in the country.

AMBD has developed a risk-based capital and solvency framework to further enhance risk-based supervisory approach in the insurance and takaful sector.

With the travel restrictions imposed to control the outbreak of COVID-19, the money-changing sector continues to be severely affected.

Following the interim measure introduced in April 2020, AMBD issued another Notice on Temporary Regulatory Relief Measure for Money-Changing Business on October 15, 2020 to provide a one-off reduction in annual licencing fee to ease the financial burden of the sector during this period.

In efforts towards the establishment of a securities exchange in Brunei Darussalam, AMBD issued an Exposure Draft of the Listing Rules to the relevant stakeholders at the end of September 2020.

AMBD also completed a consultation process for the proposed Notice on Requirements for Payment Systems to obtain feedback from stakeholders including prospective payment service providers (PSPs), banks, FinTech Regulatory Sandbox participants and telecommunication companies (Telcos).

The interim measure introduced by AMBD and the Brunei Association of Banks (BAB) in March 2020 to waive all local interbank transfer fees has led to over 90-per-cent y-o-y increase and 59.9-per-cent y-o-y increase in the utilisation of the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system and Automated Clearing House (ACH) Direct Credit system respectively from April to September 2020. AMBD and BAB agreed to extend the fee waiver for another six months from October 1, 2020 to March 31.

AMBD continues to monitor the developments of COVID-19 pandemic and its impact to the financial sector. As the effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt and further development remains uncertain, banks are encouraged to continue to support those who require assistance.

Besides efforts to enhance and streamline the prudential regulatory framework for the financial sector that is consistent with international standards and best practices, AMBD also expanded its macro-prudential surveillance toolkit to mitigate systemic risk of the financial sector in Brunei Darussalam.