By Asia News Network
The Vietnamese government will double the credit limit for poor people seeking loans without collateral, as part of efforts to reduce poverty and prevent loan sharks.
Under a new decision, which will take effect from March 1 this year, poor households will be allowed to borrow a maximum of 100 million dong (US$4,300, Bt134,461) instead of 50 million dong as before, for up to 120 months from the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies (VBSP) and the Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank).
Besides poverty reduction, the new policy on increasing the limits of unsecured loans given by banks to the poor is also aimed to prevent those people from approaching loan sharks with exorbitant interest rates. The number of loan sharks preying on vulnerable people has increased sharply recently and caused adverse impacts on society.
According to the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV)’s Banking Supervision Agency, loan sharks often target people with unstable incomes, who live in remote areas and need money for healthcare and food. Banks should therefore expand their formal credit to remote areas, helping prevent and repel loan sharks. – Viet Nam News
SMC beats reduction goal, saves 7.7 bn litres of water
The ambitious sustainability project of the Philippines’ San Miguel Corp to cut water consumption across its operating units in half by 2025 is running ahead of schedule, with the country’s largest conglomerate reporting that it already achieved a 23-per cent reduction at the end of last year.
In a statement, San Miguel president Ramon Ang said last year’s performance was better than the goal of cutting water use by 20 per cent by 2020, even as the firm’s various business lines continued to expand their activities.
The initiative, which is part of the conglomerate’s “Water for All” sustainability project, resulted in an estimated 7.7 billion litres of “non-product” water saved last year alone.
“This is a significant milestone for us, and we’re highly encouraged by these results,” Ang said. “It’s only the second year since we announced this major sustainability goal, and already, the effort and commitment of those in our company tasked with making this goal a reality have started to pay off.”
He attributed the drop to the effective implementation of programmes aimed at increasing use of alternative, “non-scarce” water, including rainwater, recycled water and seawater.
The company explained that while its total water volumes for the year actually increased — due to higher production and the start of operations of new manufacturing plants — it was also able to increase utilisation of non-scarce water sources. |– Philippine Daily Inquirer
Singapore govt lowers headline inflation forecast
The Singapore government has lowered its overall inflation forecast for this year on the back of lower oil prices, as it released latest monthly data showing consumer prices cooling in January.
Given the sharp decline in global oil prices in recent months, the forecast for overall inflation has been lowered to between 0.5 per cent and 1.5 per cent, from 1 per cent to 2 per cent previously, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a joint release on Monday.
The forecast for core inflation - which excludes accommodation and private transport costs - remains unchanged at between 1.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent, reflecting the smaller weight of oil-related items in this measure, they said.
MAS and MTI added that the extent of overall price increases will be capped by greater market competition in several consumer segments. – The Straits Times
Malaysia's Maybank to go digital to boost income
Amid increasing competition from financial technology (fintech) companies, Malaysian publicly listed lender Maybank Indonesia plans to go digital this year to boost its fee-based income.
Maybank Indonesia president director Taswin Zakaria has said that aside from focusing on its two main segments, namely corporate and micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the lender would also focus on retail banking by using digital technology to offer an appealing and convenient banking experience to its customers this year.
"We will be launching a new digital banking platform called Maybank2u [M2u], as well as a revamped Maybank Indonesia official website in the near future," Taswin said. – The Star