Toll hikes anger, perplex motorists
The announcement of increased toll rates on 12 major highways starting October 15 has been greeted with frustration and queries from perplexed motorists. A Cheras lawmaker said that the new rates would only add to the burden of middle-income earners who were already suffering from high cost of living, on top of the goods and services tax (GST). Another local lawmaker said the toll hikes were unjustifiable, and the public should be informed of the reason for the hike. Motorists also found the increase unacceptable and detrimental to Malaysian society. Expenditures, price of items and cost of living are going up, while earnings and the standard of living remained the same. One motorist said that it was absurd for the government to keep increasing toll prices without prior notice and concrete reasons. A report in June said the rates would go up by as much as 30%, but the new rates announced will see increases ranging from 10 sen to RM6 beginning Thursday. (The Malaysian Insider)

New toll rates starting Oct 15, 2015 (Image from The Malaysian Insider)

New toll rates starting Oct 15, 2015 (Image from The Malaysian Insider)

Glomac to sell Selangor land to PR1MA for RM145mil
Glomac Bhd will dispose a piece of 16.9ha freehold land in Ulu Langat, Selangor to Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia (PR1MA) for RM145.59 million cash. Glomac is expected to obtain a net gain of about RM83.6 million or 12 sen per share from the deal. The land, bought by Glomac in 2004, originally cost RM18.04 million. Proceeds from the disposal will be used for future acquisition of land bank and to finance bank borrowings, working capital and land-related expenses of Glomac Maju Sdn Bhd, Glomac’s wholly-owned subsidiary which entered the sale and purchase agreement with PR1MA. (The Edge Markets)

Penang loosens affordable housing rules
Several measures to allow more residents to apply for affordable housing in Penang has been introduced. The measures include increasing the net household income cap for affordable housing projects, opening up 30% of affordable housing projects to those who already owned property (based on certain conditions), and introduction of a new RM150,000 category. State executive councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo said that something had to be done to stimulate the Penang property market which remained strong, but seeing lower take-up rates for affordable units due to high loan rejection rates. This is because the banking sector viewed affordable housing loan applications as high risk. (The Malay Mail Online)

Malaysia needs new revenue sources or stability, say economists
As the global decline in commodities continue to weigh on the ringgit, economists say that Malaysia needs to tap into different revenue sources to shore up confidence in its economy and ringgit. While Malaysia has progressively diversified its revenue pie over the years, China’s rapid economic expansion has spurred Malaysia to ramp up production in the oil and gas and palm oil sectors. The dependence on these two sectors, however, has been pinned as among the key factors driving down the value of the ringgit as crude oil and other commodities slump. It is vital that Putrajaya make sure domestic institutions and economic financial conditions remain conducive, as well as work towards a speedy resolution to the 1MDB woes which have spooked both local and foreign investors. (The Malay Mail Online)

Metrod buys 5-star Goa hotel
Copper rod producer Metrod Holdings Bhd is acquiring a five-star hotel in Goa, India for RM331.2 million. The company said its investment in Ceres Hotel Pte Ltd, owner of The Leela Goa hotel, does not mean it is exiting the copper business but merely diversifying. Metrod said it had, together with its unit Metrod Holdings (Singapore) Pte Ltd and its major shareholder MetTube Sdn Bhd, and wholly owned subsidiary MetTube International Pte Ltd, entered into a supplemental conditional subscription agreement to invest in Ceres for a total subscription price of 5,199.9 million rupees (RM331.2mil). The new business was expected to contribute more than a quarter of its net profit and diversion of more than 25% of the net assets. (The Star Online)