Malaysia to go ahead with CPTPP
In an interview last week, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was asked his position on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). “After the US pullout from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the condition which allows companies to sue governments is no longer something we need to fear. Also, there is less overwhelming dominance of America over the other countries. We can’t withdraw without losing credibility, so we will have to go ahead with the CPTPP,” he said. Malaysia together with 10 other countries signed the free trade agreement (FTA) in March. The next step before the FTA comes into force is when six of the 11 countries ratify the agreement. The CPTPP is a rebranded Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that “collapsed” after the United States withdrew in January 2017 under President Donald Trump. The other signatories are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. (The Star Online)

Kedah govt wants soft loans provided to lower income group
The Kedah government wants to discuss with Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and several federal government agencies on ways to encourage financial institutions to provide housing loans for the less fortunate at the lowest rate. Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir said it included providing soft loans through low interest rate of less than 1% with the repayment period extended to 35 years. “This is to help families whose household income is not more than RM2,000 and don’t have a salary slip to own their own house,” he said. He said the state government would propose that BNM also provide soft loans to housing developers as an encouragement for them to build more low cost houses in the state. (The Sun Daily)

Penang residential overhang mostly in higher-end segment
Penang’s residential overhang is concentrated in the higher-end market with properties priced from RM500,000 onwards in areas like Mount Erskine, Tanjung Tokong, Batu Ferringhi, Sungai Ara and Bayan Baru. the overhang in these locations does not come as a surprise because certain areas in Tanjung Tokong, Batu Ferringhi and Bayan Baru are prone to flooding. Some projects are near hillslopes. In the final quarter of 2017, sales of properties near hillslopes and flood prone areas were badly hit when rain storms wreaked havoc in Penang. According to Napic, the North-East district of Penang, where most most of the higher-end properties are located, has the most number of overhang units of 1,361 or 33.26%. (The Star Online)

Group urges govt to abolish SST for recruitment of local workers
Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Sumber Manusia Malaysia (Pusma) wants the government to exempt Sales and Service Tax (SST) for the recruitment of local workers. Pusma president Zarina Ismail said this is to encourage more employers to hire local workers instead of foreign workers. There are 500,000 unemployed graduates in the country and this incentive or savings in taxation will allow employers to provide better housing facilities to local migrant workers. She said besides recruitment of local workers, recruitment of domestic workers to enable educated housewives to work and contribute to the economic, should also be exempted from SST. (Malay Mail Online)

Malaysia on track to meet 33.1 million tourist arrivals
Malaysia is on track to achieve its targeted tourist arrivals of 33.1 million this year, says the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister. Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi said this was despite a slowdown in tourist arrival growth last year. “We are keeping the target set (by the former government) earlier at 33.1 million. Based on the latest figures so far, we are on track to achieve that,” he said. Tourist arrivals fell 3.36% to 25.9 million last year from 26.8 million in 2016. (The Star Online)