BNM: New governor, new roles

Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus arrives for a news conference at the Finance Ministry in Putrajaya June 22, 2018. — Reuters pic
Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus arrives for a news conference at the Finance Ministry in Putrajaya June 22, 2018. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — The new Bank Negara governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus is already reshuffling the roles of senior officers in the central bank, less than two weeks into holding office.

According to an online report by The Star, there are a few notable changes which include the higher priority given to the Financial Intelligence and Enforcement Department (FIED).

The department will now come under the purview of a deputy governor Datuk Shaik Abdul Rasheed Abdul Ghaffour, under Nor Shamsiah’s leadership.

The changes are reflected in the updated version of Bank Negara’s organisation structure, available on its website bnm.gov.my, with a note that said they would come into effect this Sunday.

On June 22, it was announced that Nor Shamsiah would make a return to the central bank.

She is replacing Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim, who tendered his resignation earlier that month after questions were raised on a land purchase from the federal government for RM2 billion.

When Nor Shamsiah was a deputy to then-governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, she spearheaded investigations into 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

She left Bank Negara on November 15, 2016, after almost 30 years of service, to join the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington as the assistant director of Monetary and Capital Markets Department.

Her last day with the IMF was June 29 before her official term as the ninth governor started on July 1.

The shake-ups also saw the central bank doing away with the role of chief of staff, which was created by Muhammad Ibrahim in 2016.

Previously, the chief of staff is responsible for matters related to the governor’s office, strategic communications and strategic management departments, where he or she would report directly to the governor.

Nor Shamsiah is also reducing the layer of authority for two critical departments — economics and monetary policy.

The two departments, which used to report to a deputy governor, will now be supervised by an assistant governor who reports directly to her.

Other changes include six out of eight assistant governors having their areas of purview swapped while 11 out of 37 departments saw directors swapping portfolios.

Three assistant governors are also taking on additional roles as directors in departments.

The English daily reported that experts find the role-restructuring exercise a positive move in the market.

Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd chief economist Manokaran Mottain said Nor Shamsiah’s appointment alone was a sign of strengthening the independence of the central bank.

“In this case (the restructuring), I see it as in line with the aspirations of the governor. With the FIED being put under a deputy governor, this means that might be a bigger role waiting for that department and somebody with a higher authority is needed there.

“The governor cannot be looking into everything, so in a way this is a good thing and the market will definitely be positive about this,” he told The Star.

He added that the deputy governor overseeing FIED is someone with a strong background in inspection and banking supervision.

Manokaran also said having the Economy and Monetary Policy departments reporting directly to Nor Shamsiah was similarly done by former governor Zeti until a deputy governor Dr Sukudhew (Sukhdave) Singh was appointed to supervise it.

“These two departments are very important for the central bank because the central bank itself is the authority for monetary policy,” he said.

He added that there was talk in the market about the return of Sukhdave to the central bank as he is known as the man of monetary policy.

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