Covid-19 forces ‘complete’ overhaul of APRA’s 2019-23 corp plan

APRA has had to completely overhaul its 2019-23 corporate plan, including super system improvements, since the onset of the covid-19 pandemic, chief Wayne Byres, told the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics yesterday (August 5).

He said all policy initiatives had been suspended until September 30. “(O)ur aim has been to help steer the industry through an unprecedented period, seeking a balance between regulatory flexibility and maintaining a prudent level of resilience,” he said.

In insurance, APRA had examined the impact on investment portfolios and several specific types of business, including private health, disability income, business interruption and trade credit insurance.

In super, APRA had redeployed “significant resources” to ensure the effects of the sharp downturn in investment markets was understood as well as the expansion of the early release scheme on funds’ continued viability and delivery of appropriate member results.

“(A)cross all sectors, we have intensified our focus on operational resilience to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, the continuing provision of essential financial services to the community,” Byres said.

Operationally, the financial industry had weathered the severe disruptions well. “This has ensured that, so far, the finance sector has been able to act as an important shock absorber to the broader economy and able to support households and businesses navigate a period of severe stress,” Byres said. 

APRA was now finalising a “refreshed” corporate plan for 2020-2024, to be published at end Aug. “But our first priority in the short term will be maintaining the safety and soundness of the Aust financial system through incredibly challenging conditions,” Byres said.