Bank Negara unveils new financing rules

(The Star) – Malaysians will have to go through a more exhaustive process when applying for loans starting next year after Bank Negara issued guidelines on responsible lending by banks.

Following the new guidelines, the maximum tenure for car loans will be capped at nine years with immediate effect.

Starting July next year, borrowers will not be penalised heavily for early settlement of their loans.

Instead, banks will only be allowed to charge for the cost incurred in processing the loan and not for profit loss from the early settlement of the loan.

At a media briefing yesterday following the release of third quarter economic data where the economy grew by 5.8%, Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz said the objective of the guidelines was to inculcate responsible lending practices by financial institutions which include commercial banks and development financial institutions.

“We don’t want to restrict growth but we want to set parameters which are transparent,” she said, adding that the guidelines also provide for clear information and disclosure on financial products.

As the industry becomes more competitive in a challenging environment, Zeti said the central bank wanted to ensure responsible lending practices did not erode.

Starting Jan 1, banks must make clear to the borrowers the implications of the loans they take, illustrating to them just how much more they will have to pay should the base lending rate go up.

The guidelines would be applicable to home and vehicle financing, credit and charge cards, personal financing including overdraft facility as well as financing for the purchase of securities except for share margin financing which comes under stock exchange rules.

Zeti said as part of measures to ensure borrowers do not migrate to cooperatives to get their loans, the Cooperatives Commission would also be imposing requirements on responsible financing practices on credit cooperatives.

Furthermore, the debt-service ratio of civil servants would be capped at around 60%. For others, the banks will determine for themselves and not have a fix ratio in determining what the maximum amount of loan a borrower can take.

The guidelines will include a more stringent “suitability and affordability assessment” which would ensure borrowers have the ability to pay without recourse to debt relief or substantial hardship.

To improve assessment of individual affordability and provide suitable and responsible advice to customers on their capacity to take on additional financing, there would now be appropriate enquiries by lenders on income after statutory deductions and debt repayment obligations.

Zeti added that other objectives of the guidelines were to foster a healthy and sustainable credit market which in turn would contribute to economic and financial stability as well as further strengthen the protection of consumer interests.