The AIIB, a Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) conceived for the 21st century, is an international financial institution that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region.
Through a participatory process, the Bank’s founding members are developing its core philosophy, principles, policies, value system and operating platform. Its foundation is built on the lessons of experience of existing MDBs and the private sector. Its modus operandi will be lean, clean and green: lean, with a small efficient management team and highly skilled staff; clean, as an ethical organization with zero tolerance for corruption; and green, as an institution built on respect for the environment. The AIIB will put in place strong policies on governance, accountability, finance, procurement and environment and social frameworks.
The AIIB, a modern knowledge-based institution, will focus on the development of infrastructure and other productive sectors in Asia, including energy and power, transportation and telecommunications, rural infrastructure and agriculture development, water supply and sanitation, environmental protection, urban development and logistics, etc. The operational strategy and priority areas of engagement may be revised or further refined by its governing boards in the future as circumstances may warrant.
The AIIB will complement and cooperate with the existing MDBs to jointly address the daunting infrastructure needs in Asia. The Bank’s openness and inclusiveness reflect its multilateral nature. AIIB welcomes all regional and non-regional countries, developing and developed countries, that seek to contribute to Asian infrastructure development and regional connectivity.
The bank has 57 member states (all founding members) and was proposed as an initiative by the government of China. The initiative gained support from 37 regional and 20 non-regional Prospective Founding Members (PFM), who signed the Articles of Agreement that formed the legal basis for the bank.
The bank started operation after the agreement came into force on December 25, 2015, and after ratifications were received from 10 member states holding a total of 50 per cent of the initial subscriptions of the authorized capital stock. Major economies that did not become PFM include the G7/G8 members Japan and the United States, although Canada was accepted on September 23, 2016.
The United Nations has addressed the launch of AIIB as having potential for “scaling up financing for sustainable development for the concern of global economic governance.” The capital of the bank is $100 billion, equivalent to two thirds of the capital of the Asian Development Bank and about half that of the World Bank.
The bank was proposed by China in 2013. The proposal for the creation of an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was first made by the Vice Chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a Chinese think-tank, at the Bo’ao Forum in April 2009. The initial context was to make better use of Chinese foreign currency reserves in the wake of the global financial crisis.
The initiative was officially launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping on a state visit to Indonesia in October 2013. The Chinese government has been frustrated with what it regards as the slow pace of reforms and governance, and wants greater input in global established institutions like the IMF, World Bank and Asian Development Bank which it claims are dominated by American, European and Japanese interests.
The Asian Development Bank Institute published a report in 2010 which said that the region requires $8 trillion to be invested from 2010 to 2020 in infrastructure for the region to continue economic development.
In June 2014, China proposed doubling the registered capital of the bank from $50 billion to $100 billion and invited India to participate in the founding of the bank. Twenty-one countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding the AIIB in Beijing, China on October 24, 2014. They included Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mongolia, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Indonesia’s joining was slightly delayed due to their new presidential administration not being able to review the membership on time. Indonesia signed the MoU on November 25, 2014.
The US allegedly tried to keep Australia and South Korea from becoming prospective founding members, after they expressed an interest in it. However, both Australia and South Korea applied to join the bank in March 2015.
For those looking at owning a car, there is now perhaps a BETTER alternative to car loans. BETTER Sdn Bhd offers hassle-free and affordable deals for customers which include the cost of car maintenance.
Taking into consideration flexibility, ease and better value to drive a car of their customers’ choice, BETTER Sdn Bhd, which is now effectively the largest car leasing company in Brunei has taken on six car brands under its wings – Toyota, Hyundai, Audi, BMW, Subaru and Volkswagen, with more brands in line.
Mubashar Khokhar, Chairman of BETTER Sdn Bhd, highlighted the company’s unique business model, and how it is a strategic expansion for the Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam (BIBD) Group.
“It is much more than a car-leasing and rental company in Brunei – BETTER’s business model, although new here, is established popular in countries such as the United Kingdom, due to its flexible terms coupled with the lower total cost of ownership. It’s a concept of moving towards user- ship from ownership, because people understand that there is no point investing in depreciating assets,” he said.
Mubashar added that they strive to provide a better deal to their customers by providing short and long- term value-for-money rental plans that address customers’ individual needs. “Our rental plans give customers the flexibility to pick and choose packages that suit them best. With our pay-as-you- go plan, customers are not locked in and have the flexibility of choosing how long they want to rent cars from BETTER, with an annual mileage plan that fits their mobility needs,” he explained.
BETTER also has a mobile app which offers details on contract plans, monthly rental prices and promotions and also plans to deliver the vehicle to customers’ doorstep within 24 hours, for a long-term lease with the app. “Since customers know exactly how much they have to pay, they are in a better position to manage their finances. All our plans are inclusive from insurance, road tax to servicing covered in a fixed payment,” he said.
Chief Operating Officer (COO) of BETTER Sdn Bhd, Firdaus Mokim said the idea of BETTER sprung from their intention to give the public a better deal. This better deal is the flexibility it offers, where customers just pay for the use of the vehicle. Following the expiration of their contract term, they may return the car to the company and change to another brand new car. Compared with a car loan, BETTER offers more flexibility for customers to upgrade, downgrade or simply return their vehicle. They only need to pay for what they use.
The contract is set at four years with options of a 10,000 kilometres or 15,000 kilometres annual mileage plan that can be added on and the monthly rental is lower when compared to a seven-year hire purchase loan, with an all-inclusive maintenance package. Customers do not need to worry about the vehicle’s maintenance cost or annual insurance, as they are all covered under the rental fee. Firdaus added that the car rental service will also cater to the needs of foreign professionals as well as diplomats who are based in Brunei for a short period. “Without the surprise of paying for repairs or annual insurance, BETTER gives customers more control to manage their cash flow or budgets,” he said.
Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Mustappa bin Haji Sirat, the Minister of Communications said that BETTER has an impressive business model that offers reasonable prices and convenience. “Comparing buying and owning with leasing a car for a period of four years, this is a better option, because it offers economical prices. If you buy and own a car and pay a certain amount for four years, then try to sell the car off at a second-hand price, the value will be lower.”
The Minister also said that BETTER is especially convenient for large institutions, embassies, diplomatic missions, government departments with certain disposal policies, and multinational companies.
The comprehensive services provided with the application, administrative process, insurance and road tax are all practical in keeping with contemporary needs.
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