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OPR 0.25%: 3 Significant Impacts on Malaysians

Updated 11 Mar 2020 – By Nisya Aziz

Boom! You’ve heard the news -  Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has decided to reduce the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) for the second time this year by 25 basis points to 2.50%. It’s the lowest since May 2010.  But, why?

As reported by The Edge, BNM shared: “The reduction in the OPR is intended to provide a more accommodative monetary environment to support the projected improvement in economic growth amid price stability. 

“Global economic conditions have weakened in the recent period. The ongoing Covid-19 outbreak has disrupted production and travel activity, especially within the region. This has also led to greater risk aversion, resulting in tighter financial conditions and a resurgence in financial market volatility.”

To simplify it, when the economy is slowing down, BNM will reduce the OPR bands to encourage domestic spending to boost Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. 

Okay, but what is OPR? 

To those who aren’t exactly sure what is OPR - it’s the benchmark for commercial lending and deposit rates, which will be charged by the lending bank to its borrower bank for the borrowed funds.

Additionally, the rate decided isn’t random but takes into account various economic indicating factors, such as inflation, economic growth, possible risks – basically, the overall economic outlook. BNM will adjust the rate according to how much money they want in circulation versus how much is tied up in savings.


How will it affect me, financially? Besides the weakening Ringgit...

1. Your cost of borrowing will be lessened.

A lower OPR would trigger the local banks to adjust their lending base rate (BLR) and base financing rate (BFR). This would then indirectly affect the interest rates - which means lowered costs for borrowing or refinancing an existing home loan.

For example, Maybank’s Base Rate was at 2.75% before the OPR reduction announcement. Now, it’s at 2.5%.  With this, the interest rate for existing floating rate loans will be adjusted accordingly, which means borrowers would see a reduction in their monthly payment. And, the new loans will follow the current rates.

So, whether it’s a car loan, personal loan, credit cards or home loan, you will benefit from the OPR reduction. As a consumer, your spending capacity will increase and you’ll able to save. Not to mention, you’ll be able to make repayment for a shorter period.

2. Interest earnings from savings and fixed deposits will drop.

If you have high savings or are investing in fixed deposits, do know that the OPR cut isn’t something you’ll be happy about. This is because the interest rates on these accounts will be reduced as well. Yikes! Which means you’ll be getting a lower interest rate as compared to before. 

Perhaps, you want to re-assess your savings or investment strategy so that you can get optimal returns. Having said that, if you’ve placed your money before the revised rate, it’ll remain the same.

 3. It’s a great time to invest in Malaysian real estate investment trusts (M-REITs).

Because of the lower interest payments, it can guarantee more savings and a larger disposable income for you investors out there. You could also increase your investment.

Affin Hwang Capital Research shared that over the long run, a lower OPR should also lower the finance costs of MREITs and lift earnings, although the impact on near-term profit to be minimal. The research house added that for 2020, the 25bps OPR rate cut is expected to have a muted impact of under 1% of the MREITs' earnings, it said.

So, what are your thoughts on the new OPR? Share with us.


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