Brunei’s domestic economy narrowed by 4.3 per cent in the first half of 2022, according to Brunei Darussalam Central Bank’s (BDCB) bi-annual policy statement.
In its Policy Statement 2/2022, BDCB noted that domestic and global inflation will remain elevated over the near term.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) has maintained its 2022 global growth forecast at 3.2 per cent to 3.6 per cent and the growth forecast was slightly decreased from 2.9 per cent to 2.7 per cent in 2023.
The basis of the outlook is a combination of several shocks pummelling the world economy that has yet to fully recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This includes slower growth in China which has primarily been caused by the outbreak and a strict policy towards the virus, in addition to the nation’s real estate slowdown; higher-than-expected global inflation particularly in major and advanced economies; and the negative fallout from the Ukraine-Russia conflict,” said the central bank.
However, it added, given the country’s monetary policy with the value of the Brunei dollar at par with the Singapore dollar, several tightening of the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) monetary policy this year are expected to dampen the effects of imported inflation to the domestic economy.
BDCB’s inflation forecast for Brunei is expected to be in the range between 3.5 and 4.5 per cent.
The central bank has seen notable growth in the financial sector’s total assets of 5.9 per cent year-on-year with a total asset value of BND24.8 billion as of Q3 2022.
“Of this, the Islamic finance sector accounts for 54 per cent or BND13.4 billion of the total assets. Deposit-taking institutions comprised 92.6 per cent of the total financial sector assets with an asset base of BND23 billion,” said the statement.
Moreover, the policy statement mentioned that the banking industry continues to have a robust capital position with an aggregated Capital Adequacy Ratio of 18.7 per cent as of Q3 2022.
Nevertheless, considering heightened global market volatility, the profitability of the banking industry has declined in Q3 2022 with the aggregate Return on Assets and Return on Equity recorded at 1.1 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively, compared to 1.5 per cent and 9.5 per cent in the same quarter last year.
To further strengthen the monitoring and mitigation of fraud incidents within the financial sector, the Notice on Reporting of Fraud Incidents was introduced to banks, finance companies, takaful operators and insurance companies.
Guidelines on Operational Risk Management were issued to all the banks stipulating sound principles and practices in managing their risks relating to banking operations.
The Notice on Maintenance of Capital Adequacy Ratio was also introduced to the finance companies to ensure the capital level remains adequate against the identified risks under the Capital Adequacy Framework.
For the takaful and insurance sector, existing guidelines on sound risk management practices for the identification and mitigation of risk exposure to takaful/insurance fraud incidents, namely the Guidelines on Insurance Fraud Risk Management in Insurance and Takaful were further enhanced.
“A regulatory framework relating to the management of takaful funds and shareholders’ fund that is the Notice on Establishment and Maintenance of Takaful Funds for Takaful Operators was also issued to promote efficient takaful business operations and sustainable takaful funds while safeguarding takaful participants,” added BDCB.
To ensure that the regulations related to Islamic finance are at par with international best practices, BDCB issued Guidelines for Syariah Standards on Tawarruq, Murabahah, Wakalah and Mudharabah. These guidelines serve as references for financial institutions to structure Islamic products and services in accordance with Hukum Syara’.
Furthermore, BDCB has also introduced the Notice on Application Process of Islamic Products with the objective of providing guidance on the approval of Islamic financial product applications. To further facilitate the approval process for the application of takaful products as outlined in the new notice, the Guidelines on Product Development and Pricing were issued.
The waiver of fees and charges for online local interbank fund transfers excluding third-party charges has been put in place since 1 April 2022 to offer bank customers a safe alternative to make payments during the pandemic.
BDCB noted an increase in the number of transactions using the Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system by 91.7 per cent year-on-year from January to October 2022 compared to the previous year.
Meanwhile, the total number of direct credit transfers using the Automated Clearing House (ACH) system also increased by 54.1 per cent year-on-year during the same period.
However, as the fee waiver is expected to expire on 31 December 2022, BDCB advises the public to check on the prevailing fees and charges imposed by their respective banks.
The full version of BDCB Policy Statement 1/2022 can be found on BDCB’s website at www.bdcb.gov.bn.
For further information and inquiries, members of the public may contact BDCB at 8318388, or by email infobdcb.gov.bn.
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN