Singaporean insurer Great Eastern Life has been exempted from a Bank Negara Malaysia foreign ownership ruling after it pledged a minimum MYR2bn ($488m) contribution to a new health insurance scheme for the bottom 40% (B40) of the population, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
He said this when asked about the source of the national health protection fund, which took effect on 1 January, reported Free Malaysia Today.
Great Eastern owns 100% of its Malaysian unit which is called Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia). This is despite a 2017 Bank Negara ruling that foreign insurance companies are to be limited to at most 70% ownership of insurance companies in Malaysia.
Mr Lim said that forcing foreign insurance companies to reduce their equity from 100% to 70% and divest it to local institutions would only benefit a few people.
“We prefer that ordinary people benefit; we are talking about millions and millions of ringgit.”
He added that other foreign insurance companies which contribute to the scheme will also be exempted from having to reduce their equity in their Malaysian insurance units.