Selangor Journal
Datuk Seri Amir Hamzah Azizan (left) receives his appointment letter as Finance Minister II from Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah (right) during the appointment and swearing-in ceremony for the new Cabinet ministers and deputy ministers at Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur, on December 12, 2023. — Picture by BERNAMA

Amir Hamzah’s appointment positive for financial, capital markets

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 — The appointment of Datuk Seri Amir Hamzah Azizan as Finance Minister II will be positive for the financial and capital markets, as well as building confidence among investors.

Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd chief economist Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said Amir understands the importance of building confidence among the investors, which is extremely critical for strengthening the Malaysian currency.

“I think it is good to have the technocrat to run the Finance Ministry,” he told Bernama.

Amir would demonstrate a strong commitment to reducing the fiscal deficits and keeping the government debt level sustainable.

“This will be the key plus point as he understands the impact it may have on the bonds and equities market.

“I believe his appointment would be positive for the financial and capital markets given his vast knowledge and experience in the financial world,” Afzanizam said.

Amir would also ensure the government adhere to all the key parameters set out in the Public Finance and Fiscal Responsibility Act to improve its finances.

EPF stint an eye opener to living costs, people’s predicaments

At the same time, his stint at the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) means he also comprehends the plight and predicament faced by the rakyat, especially in areas relating to the cost of living and savings for retirement.

“In that sense, the reform agenda will be balanced and gradual as the ministry will not want to shock the economy.

“I think he has what it takes to run the ministry and be able to articulate the policy effectively to the rakyat,” he said.

Prime Minister cum Minister of Finance Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced Amir Hamzah’s appointment as Finance Minister II following a Cabinet reshuffle today.

Amir, who was the EPF chief executive officer (CEO), was sworn in as a Senator at Dewan Negara on the same day.

He is the second technocrat in the ministry to have a corporate background, following the footsteps of former finance minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz, who served as the group CEO and executive director of CIMB Group Holdings Bhd from February 27, 2015, to March 9, 2020.

Amir joined the EPF, the country’s largest pension fund in terms of asset management, as CEO in March 2021.

Prior to that, he was the president and CEO of Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) from April 2019 to February 2021.

Echoing Afzanizam, Malaysia University of Science and Technology (MUST) economics professor Geoffrey Williams said Amir’s appointment would be positive for investors’ confidence as he is a well-respected leader in the investment community.

“He is a non-political and will focus on the details of policy, fiscal management and good governance. This is exactly what we need now,” he said.

Amir’s appointment is also not a political appointment but a professional appointment, which would confirm investor confidence.

Williams added that communication is important in setting out priorities clearly for fiscal policy, governance and investment direction, as well as addressing key priorities in pensions, debt management, and Nasional Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) to get a positive response from domestic and international investors.

Amir has shown very impressive leadership at EPF, especially during the withdrawal period.

He also spearheaded some significant changes in the service offering at EPF, which have been very positive, including EPF accounts for housewives and gig-economy workers and new savings and investment products like Account 3.

“We hope his appointment signals a focus on the pensions crisis and he is exactly the person to do this.

“Improvement in the investment environment and the management of government funds is also essential and well within his expertise,” he said.

Meanwhile, and Putra Business School associate professor and economic analyst Ahmed Razman Abdul Latiff said Amir’s appointment could help Anwar in ensuring more effective and efficient fiscal policy implementation by prioritising impact and output and not just looking at the performance of fund distribution.

He said Amir could carry out reforms in terms of transparency in the implementation of fiscal policy and higher accountability, in addition to reducing unnecessary expenses, including leakage, waste, and corruption.

— Bernama


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