ON July 6, 2022 the Monetary Policy Committee of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) increased the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) by 25 basis points to 2.25%.
This is consistent with its view of the continued decline of conditions necessitating a low OPR. Over the course of the Covid-19 crisis, the OPR was reduced to a historic low of 1.75% to provide support to the economy.
With domestic growth on firmer footing, the reduction in monetary accommodation will be done gradually, ensuring sustainable economic growth in an environment of price stability.
Recently, indicators of exports and retail spending affirm a positive growth momentum, supported by the transition to endemicity.
The unemployment rate has declined further, with higher labour participation and the prospect of income improvement.
Additionally, the reopening of international borders facilitates recovery in tourism-related sectors, supported by realisation of multi-year projects.
Up to now, headline inflation has averaged 2.4%. Underlying inflation is expected to average between 2% - 3% in 2022.
The extent of upward pressures on inflation remains partly contained by existing price controls, fuel subsidies, and spare capacity in the economy.
Many have welcomed the central bank’s move in increasing the OPR.
However, Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki has warned that a successive increase in OPR will directly lead to a higher cost of living.,
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It was “inconclusive” to state that raising the OPR would keep inflation low, he added.
He pointed out that families with housing, cars, and other loans would see their monthly costs go up by hundreds of ringgit should loan repayment rates be hiked.
This is not necessarily true as changes in OPR does not affect fixed lending rates.
Car and personal loans are typically fixed rate loans. Hence, borrowers will see no change in their monthly instalment.
Banks will also provide the option to maintain the same monthly instalments to clients on floating loan rates in lieu of an increase in loan tenure.
According to analysts, if you have a 30-year housing loan of RM500,000 at a floating lending/interest rate of 3.83%, the monthly instalment will be RM2,367.
When the OPR is increased by 0.25%, the bank’s lending/interest rate is thus increased to 4.08%, leading to a repayment period increase of 2 - 32 years, if the same monthly instalment is kept.
Also, a 0.25% increase in OPR for the same quantum of loan is likely to increase the monthly instalment payment by about RM71, and not by hundreds of ringgit, as alleged by Asyraf.
It can clearly be seen that Asyraf is just exaggerating things.
Perhaps Malaysian banks could limit the increase in monthly instalment to only new clients.
Together with a national campaign for the people to spend within their means, this could reduce the high level of household debt in Malaysia. - July 10, 2022.