Toll abolishment move on hold, says Works Minister
The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has agreed to postpone the move to abolish toll collections until the economy stabilises. Works Minister Baru Bian said the postponement was agreed upon after the government weighed the effects of its abolition on the country’s finances. He said abolishing tolls would lead the government having to pay an estimated RM400 billion in compensation to toll concession companies. Baru said, after taking into account various factors and implications on the country’s finances, the government conceded that abolishing tolls would not be easy to implement at this time. “To ease the cost of living, the Cost of Living Council is studying several measures which are more practical and beneficial for the people,” he added. (NST Online)

BNM to roll out special housing loan next month, says MoF
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) is expected to roll out a special housing loan scheme tailored for the low to middle income group with regard to first home ownership, by next month, according to the Ministry of Finance (MoF). The features of the scheme include giving flexibility to banks in lending guidelines for first home buyers, requiring first home buyers to attend financial counselling to ensure they receive adequate financial advice before taking a housing loan, as well as reducing the overall cost of first home ownership such as stamp duty and insurance. For the time being home buyers who intend to purchase their first home can access the schemes offered by financial institutions in collaboration with the government such as My First Home Scheme, Skim Jaminan Kredit Perumahan (SJKP), Skim Pembiayaan Fleksibel PR1MA (SPEF) and Skim Sewa-Beli Hartanah (rent-to-own). (The Edge Markets)

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SST won’t mean much cheaper homes, says architect group
The sales tax exemption for construction materials is not a guarantee of more affordable property, said the Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM). PAM president Ezumi Harzani Ismail said raw materials only accounted for less than a third of the total development cost. Other costs include land purchase and other compliance charges that come with building the houses or units. He added that there are other factors that could raise housing prices, listing as example the high cost of building infrastructures in development projects. “It would be better if the authorities come up with a building master plan that could address these issues,” he said. (Malay Mail Online)

New housing policy for lower income group in East Malaysia
The Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) will introduce a new housing policy in September that would benefit the lower income citizens in East Malaysia. Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin noted that Sabah is facing squatter issues and has its own housing mechanism due to topographical and population concentration, among others. A study would be carried out soon as possible so that the minimum price of low-cost houses could be standardised to cater to those in the lower income (B40) group in Sabah and Sarawak. This was needed as the salaries earned by the lower income groups in East Malaysia is much lower compared to those in the peninsular. Zuraida also added that under the new policy, the house area specifications should be at least 1,000 sq ft. (The Edge Markets)

UMLand launches RM333mil Suasana Iskandar Malaysia in JB
United Malayan Land Bhd (UMLand) has launched the RM333 million Suasana Iskandar Malaysia (Suasana IM) in the Johor Baru city centre today. Sitting on a 1.42-acre freehold site, Suasana IM is a mixed development which comprises a serviced residence named Suasana Iskandar JB, the first 5-star Amari Hotel in Malaysia and a retail podium named Zenith Lifestyle Centre. Suasana IM is situated next to Sungai Segget, which is undergoing a revitalisation project carried out by the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA). The 35-storey Suasana Iskandar JB serviced apartment consists of 339 serviced apartments that come with the latest in smart home technology in partnership with Samsung Malaysia Electronics. (The Edge Markets)