Bank Negara sees inflation exceeding 8-year high
Higher fuel costs probably pushed up Malaysia’s inflation rate this month to above 4.5% as posted in February, though there’s no evidence that price pressures are spreading more broadly in the economy, said Bank Negara Malaysia. Last month’s inflation rate – which was the highest in more than eight years and exceeded the median estimate of 3.9% in a Bloomberg survey – wasn’t a surprise to the central bank, which said in its annual report released last week that inflation will probably average 3% to 4% this year, up from 2.1% in 2016. (New Straits Times)

Approved property loan recovery may not be sustainable
Approved property loans for January year-on-year may be up 6% in January, but MIDF Research says it does not signal a sustained recovery for the segment. Despite the increase in approval rate y-o-y in January 2017, it was still at a very low level of 40.5%. Loan demand, as measured by applied loans, remains weak ,declining 1% y-o-y as the continued weakness in the ringgit in January affected consumer sentiment. Among the key states, the slowest house price index (HPI) y-o-y growth was recorded in Penang (+3.4%). Selangor growth was better at +7.5%, followed by Johor (+5.5%) and Kuala Lumpur (+5.1%). A 6.3% quarter-on-quarter decline in property market transaction value reflects slow demand recovery among consumers due to ongoing concerns about the weak ringgit and uninspiring employment outlook. (The Sun Daily)

FT Ministry planning developer-friendly ‘package’ to build affordable housing
The Federal Territories Ministry is planning to create a package that will benefit developers in terms of reducing cost and time when constructing affordable houses. The initiative aims to encourage more developers to start building affordable houses especially on their own land. Among the challenges are lack of land in the city, having to deal deal with construction consultants, engineers and utilities which cost a lot of money and are time consuming. (Malay Mail Online)

Artist's impression of one of the upcoming launches, Link Villas, by TAHPS at Bukit Puchong

Artist’s impression of one of the upcoming launches, Link Villas, by TAHPS at Bukit Puchong

TAHPS Group to launch RM100mil project in Puchong
Bukit Hitam Development Sdn Bhd, the property of TAHPS Group Bhd, is launching a landed property project with GDV of more than RM100mil as part of a planned RM10 billion township in Bukit Puchong. The project, comprising 140 units of gated landed houses on 20.23ha, is expected to be launched by the fourth quarter of this year. Group CEO Eugene Khoo said it was important for the company to keep launching projects that were relevant to the market. TAHPS Group has about 242ha of freehold land to be developed into the township Bukit Puchong, which will comprise residential, high-rise and landed properties, parks, and commercial developments such as specialty shops and a healthcare centre, among others. (The Star Online)

Econpile bags RM92.5mil KVMRT2 contract
Econpile Holdings Bhd has secured a RM92.5 million contract to build the diaphragm wall for the Kampung Baru North Underground Station, Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit 2 (KVMRT2) Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya line. The contract is Econpile’s first for a KVMRT underground station, and the second to be secured for KVMRT2 project. The project is expected to take about 450 days from date of commencement, which will be determined in due course. (The Sun Daily)

Developers sign MoU to import Chinese modular housing systems
Four property development companies owned by members of Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers Association (Sheda) Kuching branch have signed MoUs with Chinese modular system manufacturer, Weifang Henglida Steel Structure Corporation Ltd. It will pave the way for Tiara Realty Sdn Bhd, Total Reliability Sdn Bhd, Sim Sim Construction Sdn Bhd and Regal Lands Sdn Bhd to negotiate with Henglida on the import of modular housing systems to Sarawak. The system can speed up building construction process, reduce material wastage and number of workers, produce better workmanship, and enhance cost saving measures. (The Borneo Post)

More China nationals buying Sabah property
Sabah may see an increasing number of China nationals purchasing property under the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme. There are now inbound tours for Chinese tourists designed to include property viewing as part of the itinerary, and many have made bookings on the spot. As China restricts their citizens to only two property purchases, the wealthy ones shift their focus to properties abroad. A combination of nice weather, cultural similarities, and cheap properties, among other factors have boosted Malaysia’s appeal to Chinese investors. (The Borneo Post)

Malaysia could gain from Brexit
Malaysia may gain from Brexit by having direct free trade with the UK to enhance more trade, investment and knowledge transfer, according to MIDF Research. Malaysia could be a future investment attraction point for the UK, especially when foreign direct investment flows between Malaysia and the UK have been on an upward trend. Foreign direct investment (FDI) from UK to Malaysia stood at RM5.2 billion in 2016 while FDI from Malaysia to the UK at RM3.3 billion. The UK has triggered Article 50 and signed the letter that will mark the country’s format exit from the EU. (The Sun Daily)

(Photo from Washington Times)

(Photo from Washington Times)

Age limit to buy, sell cigarettes raised to 21
The Health Ministry has proposed to raise the age limit for a person to buy and sell cigarettes to 21, from 18 currently. The age limit would be among the highlights proposed under a new law to be tabled in Parliament, the latest, by next year. The proposal is part of efforts by the government to address the phenomenon of passive smokers (secondhand smokers), who are exposed to other people’s cigarette smoke. The ministry is also looking into advertisements by cigarette manufacturers, especially at food premises. (Bernama)