Cheaper house prices soon as construction, building materials exempted from SST
Cheaper house prices are expected in the future with basic building materials and construction services to be exempted from the Sales and Services Tax (SST), according to Lim Guan Eng. The Finance Minister said this impact is also expected to be felt in the construction of industrial and commercial buildings nationwide. He pointed out that under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) previously, materials such as bricks, cement, sand and other basic construction items were subjected to the six percent tax, leading to increased property prices. Lim said with the proposed move (to exempt SST), both developers and buyers could benefit from the reduction of the tax burden. A total of 5,443 items would be exempted under SST, over 10 times more than the 540 items exempted under the previous tax system. (The Sun Daily)

Putrajaya to approve Penang LRT project by year-end
Putrajaya will approve Penang’s proposed RM8.4 billion Bayan Lepas light rail transit (LRT) and Penang South Reclamation (PSR) scheme by the end of the year. The federal bodies approving the two projects are the Department of Environment and Transport Ministry, and its sources say the reclamation project for the three man-made islands will start early next year if everything falls into place. The LRT, which is expected to begin construction in January 2020, is part of the state government’s RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) together with a monorail, cable car and water taxis. There will be 27 stations along the route, and it will cross the channel, connecting Penang Island to the mainland. (Malay Mail Online)

Building inspector: Check property before moving in
Homebuyers, especially first-timers, should inspect their new homes before moving in to reduce the risk of defects, said building inspector Joshua Kang. These inspections should be carried out before owners proceed with renovations. If not, there is a risk of the developer claiming a contractor caused the defects. Inspections protect the buyer by determining and identifying who is responsible for the defects. Homeowners can hire experts to inspect their property for defects and a report can be submitted to the developer to make rectifications. After 30 days, and if there’s no response from the developer, owners can get a quote from another contractor on how much it costs to fix the defects. “Once you’ve received the quotation from the contractor, you send the letter of intent to inform the developer,” he said. (The Star Online)

Waning Singaporean interest in Johor property market
According to industry sources, the Johor property market has been a bit muted of late, unlike the period around 2010. The numbers have been dropping over the last couple of years. There are many push-pull factors why interest has waned among Singaporeans. Accessibility is one factor while the travel time is the most critical especially for occupiers. There are also big picture factors like political stability, market transparency and liquidity/ease of exit. Stringent government policies in Singapore regarding debt servicing ratio is also a factor, as it take into account an individual’s foreign assets. Singaporean interest in Johor property has been muted since 2015 when the ringgit weakened to RM3 to S$1, and the lacklustre scenario is expected to continue as oversupply, lack of rental support and ringgit depreciation affect interest. (The Star Online)

Dr M: Money owed to PTPTN almost equal to 1MDB losses
The amount of money owed to the National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) is RM39bil, which is almost the same as losses incurred by 1Malaysian Development Bhd (1MDB), said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. He also said that the Japanese were a role model when it comes to hardworking and successful citizens, adding that they had a strong sense of shame when they fail. He gave a cutting remark, saying that the only time some Malaysians knew shame was when they were badly dressed or caught red-handed stealing. Borrowers whose salaries were below RM4,000 a month were initially allowed to postpone repayment of their PTPTN loans, but Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik later announced that they would have to continue repayments until the Government worked out a way to fulfil its pledge. He said the Government had to defer the promise due to the nation’s legacy debts. (The Star Online)