Despite the current uncertainties of the global economy, Anirvan Ghosh Dastidar, the CEO of Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) Brunei, has expressed his confidence in the Asean economy and Brunei’s market outlook. “The global economy will continue to be slow, but most Asian countries excluding Japan, are expected to grow at six per cent. In Asean countries, government expenditure is up which is a good sign,” he said.
Despite the negative GDP growth, Brunei’s economic outlook for 2017 is positive as it remains a stable economy with the Government of His Majesty actively pushing forward several ambitious diversification efforts, he added.
Anirvan pointed out some of the potential areas where Brunei could take advantage, namely the Halal market and tourism. “There is big global demand for Halal food. Brunei Darussalam can easily capture a slice of this market with its expertise and renowned certification.”
While, with its pristine forests and attractive tour packages, eco tourism can bring in immense fortunes to Brunei, he added.
On attracting FDI, Anirvan said SCB Brunei can play a pivotal role in assisting the government’s efforts to promote investments into the country.
“We play a very important role with the government. We are the only bank in Brunei which has a wide network in most countries. We can be the facility for companies that are coming to Brunei.
Multinational banks like us have big presence in countries where FDIs are coming from,” he said.
“SCB Brunei wants to be seen as a strong partner in the economic development of Brunei. The bank would like to work closely with the government, especially the Ministry of Finance, to take the Brunei story to their network of more than 70 countries.”
Supporting the proposed establishment of a stock exchange in the country by 2017, Anirvan said that it would be highly beneficial for Brunei’s business community and economy.
Development of capital market, he said, “is important to allow companies to look for alternative funding sources, and at the same time it can create an entire ecosystem of FDIs coming into Brunei, giving investors wider funding options. Therefore, we are very keen (on the stock exchange) as one of the leading international banks in Brunei, and we see it as our responsibility to help develop the capital market in Brunei”.
Touching on the local financial market, he said, “It is a vibrant and stable sector with excellent regulators and a stable financial environment where banks are highly liquid. Given the size of the population, the number of players in the financial industry is appropriate.”
On SCB’s strategies locally, he revealed that the international bank wants to be a leading retail bank in Brunei to match the country’s growing affluence.
“There will be a number of launches in 2017 like that of mobile banking and a slew of new products from SCB,” Anirvan said.
A senior banker with 20 years of experience, Anirvan has held several important positions at Standard Chartered, including CEO of SCB Philippines and CEO of SCB Sri Lanka.
His experience spans across risk and corporate governance, wholesale banking, project finance, debt capital markets and consumer banking. Under his leadership, SCB Sri Lanka was recognised as the Best in Treasury and Working Capital for Multinational and Large Local Corporates in 2014 at Asset Magazine’s Asset Asian Awards.
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