Give more access to financing for first-time homebuyers, govt tells banks

PETALING JAYA: The finance ministry today called on banks to provide greater access to financing for first-time homebuyers as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the financial health of households is on the mend, giving consumers more room to borrow for wealth accumulation purposes, either for saving schemes or for non-speculative investments including acquisition of long-term assets.

“Given the positive development, banks should provide greater access to financing to first-time homebuyers, as well as to SMEs in order to grease economic growth,” he said in a statement.

Lim’s call for banks to provide greater financing access comes almost two months after he threatened to take action against institutions which “deliberately” refrain from giving housing loans to eligible first-time house buyers.

Lim said according to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) statistics, the level of household financial assets is 2.1 times household debt.

This, he said, shows that households on average hold more assets compared to debt.

“And this gives them the necessary buffer to face any financing contingencies.”

He added that Malaysian households continue to spend more, citing figures from the Department of Statistics which noted that retail sales rose 6.3% to RM41.6 billion in April from RM39.1 billion a year ago.

The overall wholesale and retail trade sales in April also increased by 5.3% to RM105.1 billion from RM99.8 billion a year ago which indicates “high consumer confidence”, he said.

“Together with strong industrial production expansion and a low unemployment rate, these suggest that the economy is expanding.”

Industrial production for April expanded 4.0% year-on-year, beating the market consensus of 2.5% as compiled by Bloomberg.