KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Negara Malaysia's (BNM) supervision of Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) will not erode the rights of the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) and Muslims over the pilgrims fund board.

The minister, Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri said this was especially so in terms of operations and coordination of Haj pilgrimage for Muslims, in line with Section 10 of the Tabung Haji Act 1995 (Act 535).

"The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) will also remain as the minister responsible for TH in ensuring the rights of Muslims and future Haj pilgrims are protected," he said in a statement today.

Recently, the Finance Ministry announced that the Cabinet at its meeting agreed to improve the overall management and operations of TH which involved a proposed a new model and review of Act 535.

The Cabinet also agreed with the listing of TH as an Islamic financial institution as provided for under Section 223 of the Islamic Financial Services Act 2013 and supervised by BNM.

Zulkifli said that like other financial institutions supervised by BNM, each had a different management model and could continue to retain its source of power, citing Bank Rakyat which is still under the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives.

On the proposed improvement of TH's management and operations, he said its operations as the biggest financial institution for Muslims in this country and entrusted with taking care of the funds of over 8.3 million depositors, should be conducted with sincerity, honesty and integrity.

He noted that it was feared that centralising power on an individual or a party for the biggest Islamic financial institution in this country could pave the way to inefficient governance which could be very detrimental to TH.

"Therefore, there is a need for supervision by a body with the expertise like BNM to ensure that TH remains on track," he added.

Zulkifli said the proposal was also in line with the government's wish of upholding integrity and good governance based on the eight main principles outlined by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

Hence, he hoped that Muslims in this country could entrust him, the Minister of Finance and the government in making the improvements to TH.

"Indeed, TH is of great significance to Muslims. The first thing is to empower TH and ensure that it be in a state of good governance that sparks public confidence. We will continue to ensure that the interests of Muslims are protected by enhancing TH's operations," he said.