Illegal brokers from neighbouring countries giving Malaysia bad rep
The Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) plans to work with relevant stakeholders to tackle the issue of more illegal brokers in Malaysia, said its Deputy Minister Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad. These illegal brokers are from neighboring countries and many of them go home after committing crimes and developing a bad reputation here, he said. These illegal brokers are believed to disguise as marketing firms to represent the developers. He said that while the police were empowered to act against these illegal brokers, not even one of them have been charged in the courts. MIEA president Eric Lim pointed out that illegal brokers are “spreading wildly” throughout the country, causing the government to suffer huge revenue losses while affecting the professionalism of registered estate agents. (The Edge Markets)

Johor to help home buyers by reviving abandoned private projects
The Johor state government will take proactive measures to revive sick and abandoned private housing projects to help affected house buyers own houses. Johor Housing and Rural Regional Development Committee chairman Dzulkefly Ahmad said this included taking over the projects and handing them over to state-linked companies, meeting with the respective developers to find ways to revive their housing projects or hold discussions with other developers interested to take over the projects. He said there are five abandoned and sick projects in Johor, with priority given to reviving sick projects first as the developers are still around. It would take longer to revive abandoned projects as most of the developers had closed or declared bankrupt. Dzulkefly also said the state government would introduce a new type of affordable houses priced at RM250,000 to cater to the middle-income (M40) group, as they were not eligible to buy low and medium-cost houses under the Johor Affordable Houses Scheme. (The Star Online)

Govt can claim RM10bil from cancelled ECRL project but Najib says otherwise
The Malaysian government could claim back the RM10.02 billion paid to East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) contractors if the project is terminated, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng. According to the minister, the ECRL project would cost around RM80.92 billion to build, and the country has paid RM19.68 billion comprising RM10.02 billion advanced payment bond and RM9.67 billion for works completed as at Feb 15, 2018. “It must be stated that the advanced payment bond can be redeemed by MRL if the project is terminated,” he added. However, former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has refuted the claim, saying that the ECRL project was funded by a 20-year loan from the Exim Bank of China and all payments of RM19.6 billion to CCCC so far were made directly from this bank. “”If the project is cancelled now, the bank will cancel our loan and will ask us to repay the loan immediately,” he pointed out. “In fact, we will be asked to pay the balance of RM9.6 billion already paid by the bank,” he added. (The Edge Markets)

‘Avoid new taxes and maintain RPGT rate in Budget 2019’
The government should not implement new taxes on the real estate industry, especially counter-productive ones such as a vacancy tax, said the immediate past president of the Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector Malaysia (PEPS) Foo Gee Jen. He hoped the government would not introduce taxes that discourage investments and that the current rates for Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) will be maintained in Budget 2019. He added that the government should also avoid implementing “extreme measures and excessive interference” that may restrict the growth of the market and deter foreign investors. (The Edge Markets)

Pilot project to turn waste into energy in Malaysia
The government plans to carry out pilot projects at landfills in three states with a view to turning such facilities into waste-to-energy (WTE) plants. Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad Shah said the landfills had been identified in Melaka, Johor and Negeri Sembilan. However, the project is still under discussion with relevant parties. A WTE plant converts solid waste into electricity and/or heat – an ecological and cost-effective way of energy recovery. He noted that Malaysia currently generated about 38,000 tonnes of waste daily. Waste separation and recycle rate is only at 24% while the remaining 76% goes to the landfills. (NST Online)