RM3 billion financing fund available, Guan Eng tells SMEs

PUTRAJAYA: Against the backdrop of challenging business environment, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng assured that Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has sufficient financing fund of RM3 billion available for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as micro enterprises.

“There is RM3 billion of funds ready to be disbursed to SMEs, so there is no reason why SMEs can’t get financing,” he told a press conference here today.

Meanwhile, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Assistant Governor Abu Hassan Alshari Yahaya said the central bank is closely monitoring the business loan segment, which has been growing in tandem with the country’s economic expansion.

He added that the business loan segment is at a healthy level with low non-performing loan ratio.

Foreign labour levy to be fully borne by employers : Finance Minister

PUTRAJAYA: In a surprise move, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng today said the foreign labour levy will fully borne by the employers instead of just 20% as announced yesterday.

The new measure takes effect from October 1.

Lambasting a local Chinese daily’s report that the hefty levy will burden the foreign workers, Lim said the government decided to make such changes to the levy policy, which imposes RM10,000 levy on foreign workers who stay in Malaysia for over 10 years.

“Or else, the employers can send their workers back to home countries after 10 years, then apply to come back as a ‘new’ worker and pay RM1,850.”

Lim stressed that the foreign labour levy rate remains at RM1,850 for the first ten years and will only increase to RM10,000 beyond that.

Yesterday, he announced that foreign workers have to fork out 80% of the RM10,000 annual levy while the balance 20% be paid by employers.

Malaysia alert to import product dumping from trade diversion – Darell

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will take cautious steps to prevent product dumping in the local market created by the diversion from the trade wars, Minister of International Trade and Industry Darell Leiking said. He said the ministry was also aware of the possibility of import product dumping in the local market as global traders seek to elude […]

SERC expects leaner, meaner but supportive Budget 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: The Socio-Economic Research Centre (SERC) expects a leaner and meaner but supportive Budget 2019.

The think tank’s executive director Lee Heng Guie told reporters at a media briefing that the percentage of growth of both operating and development expenditures could be reduced.

Besides emoluments, debt services and pension which are fixed components of the opex, the government might be weighing on areas where it can cut its spending or rationalise expenditure.

On development expenditure, Lee said the mid-term review of the 11th Malaysia Plan could provide a guidance on how this will materialise in the Budget.

Necessary yet unpopular fiscal restoration measures and new taxes could also help plug the large financing gap in the budget.

The focus of this upcoming budget according to Lee is likely be on rationalising fuel subsidies and cost saving in terms of procurement while cost of living aid is likely to reviewed to make it conditional.

Lee added that corporate tax and individual income tax is unlikely to be raised.

He noted that new form of taxes such as soda tax, inheritance tax, capital gain tax on share transaction and e-hailing or e-commerce/ digits business tax are some taxes the government could take into consideration.

SERC’s proposed measures and initiatives for Budget 2019 to ease cost of living includes tax relief on rental, discount on food card at eateries, reintroducing RM100 monthly pass for unlimited LRT and bus rides, incentivising rent-to-own scheme and strict price surveillance and enforcement.

It has also proposed for an independent panel to be set up to review cost of doing business, streamlining regulatory practices and compliance cost.

The Budget 2019 to be tabled on November 2, will be the first by the Pakatan Harapan government.

SERC cuts GDP growth forecast to 4.8%

KUALA LUMPUR: The Socio-Economic Research Centre(SERC) has revised its full year gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast to 4.8% from 5.2% after economic growth moderated in the first half of the year.

The revision is in line with Bank Negara Malaysia’s revision of full year growth forecast from 5.5%-6.0% to 5.0%.

Taking on a cautious approach on growth prospects for the remainder of the year and 2019, the think tank said the revision was due to the contraction in private investment as a result of deferment and cancellation of mega projects as well as the escalation of the trade war between US and China.

Private investment growth is expected to dampen to 3.9% for the full year from 9.3% in 2017 before recouping to 4.1% in 2019.

Its executive director Lee Heng Guie said the upcoming Budget 2019 could provide more certainty in terms of government policies which will also have an effect on the movement of private investments.

In line with that, the 2019 GDP forecast has also been revised to 4.7% from 4.9% previously.

Headline inflation is expected to remain low at 1.3% for the whole of 2018 due to the transitionary effectof the tax holiday and fuel subsidy.

The ringgit is expected to settle at RM4.15 to the greenback by year-end on the back of policy clarity on fiscal and debt path, strong fundamentals and affirmations on Malaysia’s sovereign ratings despite external headwinds.

AWC shareholders approve 60% Trackwork stake buy

PETALING JAYA: AWC Bhd’s shareholders have approved the acquisition of a 60% stake in Trackwork & Supplies Sdn Bhd.

Its CFO Richard Voon said all the resolutions tabled were approved at the EGM today.

Speaking to reporters after the EGM, he said the RM43.5 million acquisition will be completed early next month, after which it will start the consolidation process.

In addition, the dispute between Trackwork’s international principal Gemac Engineering Machinery Co Ltd and Fajarbaru Builder Sdn Bhd will be fully settled once Gemac makes the final payment of RM5.6 million in December.

Earlier in June, Fajarbaru Builder made a RM19 million claim against Trackwork and Gemac for supplying defective machines, which delayed AWC’s acquisition of interest in Trackwork.

Bursa Malaysia opens lower

KUALA LUMPUR: Share prices on Bursa Malaysia opened lower today, taking the cue from the overnight fall on Wall Street, with investors remaining cautious over the US-China trade dispute as a new round of US tariffs came into effect yesterday, dealers said.

At 9.07 am, the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) was 1.66 points lower at 1,798.51 from Monday’s close of 1,800.17, after opening 2.03 points lower today at 1,798.14.

On the broader market, losers led gainers 110 to 103, with 181 unchanged, 1,504 untraded and 28 others suspended.

Volume stood at 145.53 million units valued at RM61.56 million.

Maybank IB Research in a note said the equities market is expected to come under further pressure today after the US and China hit each other with their biggest round of tariffs.

However, it said oil & gas stocks will continue to attract interest after oil prices advanced overnight.

“Technically, we expect the FBM KLCI to trade between 1,790 and 1,820 today. Downside supports are 1,780 and 1,760,” it added

Of heavyweights, Public Bank and CIMB Group shed two sen each to RM24.98 and RM6.01 respectively, Tenaga was four sen lower at RM15.48, Petronas Chemicals slid five sen to RM9.41, while Maybank was one sen better at RM9.80.

For actives, Sapura Energy added 1.5 sen to 44.5 sen and Hibiscus Petroleum gained four sen to RM1.17 while Borneo Oil and Reach Energy were flat at 5.5 sen and 43.5 sen respectively.

Debutant on the Leading Entrepreneur Accelerator Platform (LEAP) Market, Amlex Holdings Bhd, edged up half a sen to 15.5 at the opening.

The FBM Emas Index was down 4.56 points at 12,535.88, the FBMT 100 Index reduced 5.60 points to 12,345.98 and the FBM Emas Shariah Index eased 0.33 point to 12,680.58.

The FBM Ace Index slipped 9.39 points to 5,139.51 while the FBM 70 improved 15.52 points to 14,777.09.

Sector-wise, the Finance Index fell 9.54 points to 17,828.53 and the Industrial Products and Services Index eased 0.33 point to 176.83, but the Plantation Index added 6.63 points to 7,532.05.

The physical price of gold as at 9.30am stood at RM153.94 per gramme, down 15 sen from RM154.09 at 5.00pm yesterday. — Bernama

Ringgit opens lower against US dollar

KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit opened slightly lower against the US dollar this morning, reversing yesterday’s gains as the greenback’s negative sentiment weighed on appetite for emerging currencies including the ringgit, a dealer said.

The local currency stood at 4.1300/1340 as at 9 am, against 4.1270/1310 recorded at 6 pm yesterday.

He also said despite the bullish oil prices, with global benchmark Brent crude soaring to a four-year high last night, interest for the ringgit subdued on worries over the escalating US-China trade tensions coupled with political uncertainty in the US.

On Monday, the US and China imposed fresh tariffs on each other’s goods as both economic powerhouses don’t appear to be relenting in this ongoing trade dispute.

Meanwhile, the ringgit traded mostly higher versus other major currencies.

It rose against the Singapore dollar to 3.0245/0279 from 3.0246/0279 on Monday, strengthened against the yen to 3.6571/6616 from 3.6632/6678 and improved versus the euro to 4.8532/8583 from 4.8575/8626.

The ringgit, however, depreciated vis-a-vis the British pound to 5.4157/4226 from 5.4146/4215. — Bernama

Australian mining’s macho image worsens pain of labour shortage

MELBOURNE: When the song ‘Eagle Rock’ played at a bar in an outback Australian mining town of Kalgoorlie late one night, a dozen young men scattered around a pool table dropped their trousers and heartily sang along in their underwear. Later that night, they piled behind the counter of the bar attached to the Western […]