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Bank body to issue guidelines on responsible financing

SINGAPORE — The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) will be releasing guidelines on responsible financing later this week, as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) yesterday (Oct 5) noted progress is being made on “a few fronts” among financial institutions to support the promotion of sustainable development.

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SINGAPORE — The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) will be releasing guidelines on responsible financing later this week, as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) yesterday (Oct 5) noted progress is being made on “a few fronts” among financial institutions to support the promotion of sustainable development.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, ABS said work on the guidelines started earlier this year. Details will be issued later on Thursday. Together with several banks, the association formed a task force to develop a set of industry guidelines that will “provide a framework for banks in Singapore to advance responsible financing through a more structured and transparent approach”, an ABS spokesman said.

An MAS spokesperson reiterated that financial institutions have to play their part in supporting efforts to promote sustainable development. “MAS has been in discussion with ABS on how our banks can help to promote lending practices that support sustainable development. We are pleased that ABS will soon be issuing guidelines on responsible financing,” she said.

Separately, the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA) had earlier told TODAY that it has reached out to several Singapore financial institutions to raise awareness on sustainable financing and investing. Global banks such as Standard Chartered and Citibank are leading the way in this regard.

Nevertheless, one of the local banks, the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), has taken the “first step” by starting to incorporate environmental risk factors in its corporate credit policies, said Ms Cheong Poh Kwan, SIIA’s assistant director for sustainability.

The MAS said the Singapore Exchange (SGX) has also been working with listed companies to enhance disclosure on the environmental and social aspects of their businesses. In 2011, it launched a Sustainability Reporting Guide for listed companies. From financial year 2017, the SGX plans to mandate sustainability reporting on a “comply or explain” basis.

“Lenders, investors, consumers, NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and the media all have roles to play in this area,” said the MAS spokesperson. “MAS will support the development of guidance for investors, specifically institutional investors, in engaging with their investee companies, on issues relating to sustainability, social and environmental considerations.”

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