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Malaysia picks bank CEO as finance minister in new Cabinet

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Zafrul Aziz, chief executive officer of CIMB Group Holdings, will head the finance ministry in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysia's prime minister picked the head of one the country's main banks as his new finance minister Monday amid heightened global risks and domestic policy uncertainty.

Zafrul Aziz, chief executive officer of CIMB Group Holdings, will head the finance ministry in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who replaced 94-year-old Mahathir Mohamad last week after a power struggle.

Mr Zafrul will be tasked with implementing a US$4.8 billion stimulus package to counter the economic damage from the coronavirus outbreak. Growth in the Southeast Asian nation was slowing even before the virus, weakening to a decade low last year.

The Cabinet line-up also includes Azmin Ali as senior minister for trade and industry, and Ismail Sabri Yaakob as senior defence minister.

The appointment comes a week after Malaysia's central bank lowered the benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to counter risks to the economy from the coronavirus outbreak.

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