Banks to report cash transactions above RM25k from Jan 1
As at Jan 1, 2019, banks must report any cash transactions exceeding RM25,000 in their daily cash threshold report, a reduction from the current RM50,000 limit. Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Yunus said despite the advancements made in e-payments, the use of cash among the public and small and medium-sized businesses remains high. This opens up the economy to risks as cash is still being used by criminals to launder illegal proceeds, as well as being the preferred mode to finance terrorist activities, she said. The governor said this change will bring the cash threshold report in Malaysia to be more at par with other countries. “Our current threshold is too high and disconnected from the size of our economy, especially relative to our purchasing power,” she said. (The Star Online)

Most properties around MRT stations unaffordable for M40, B40 groups
A majority of housing projects built close to the MRT-SBK line are not affordable for the M40 and B40 groups, a think-tank says. In its report, the Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS) found that most homes within a one kilometre radius from the stations do not cater to the two income groups. Only eight out of the 31 MRT stations surveyed, had properties which are within the RM400,000 price range, namely; Kajang, Stadium Kajang, Batu Sebelas Cheras, Bandar Tun Hussein Onn, Sri Raya, Taman Connaught, Taman Pertama and Maluri. The think-tank also found that PR1MA homes were not located within 1km of any MRT stations. The report noted that it made no sense for high rent and prices of properties around the MRT, as the public transportation system was meant to convenience the large majority of Malaysians in the M40 and B40 groups. (Malay Mail Online)

Malaysia seeks relief from US$5.78bil payment to IPC, Aabar
Malaysia is seeking to relieve itself from the obligation to pay the balance of the US$4.32 billion to International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) or Aabar Investments PJS. It is also seeking the right to recover the US$1.46 billion already paid to IPIC and Aabar. “Malaysia will claim that as a result of the fraud, we are relieved from any obligation to pay the balance of the US$4.32 billion to IPIC or Aabar under the Consent Award, and additionally have a right to recover the US$1.46 billion already paid,” said Attorney General Tommy Thomas. The basis of Malaysia’s legal challenge is that the Consent Award was procured by fraud or in a manner contrary to public policy. Under the Consent Award in 2017, Malaysia is obliged to pay US$5.78 billion to IPIC and the bond trustee over a five-year period. (The Edge Markets)

Listing of ‘highway trusts’ mooted to halve toll charges
Toll charges can be halved in just three months if highway concessions are restructured into highway trusts and listed on Bursa Malaysia. One proposal claim that toll charges can be reduced as much as 50% by adopting a model similar to real estate investment trusts (REITs). The federal government then has the option to take the highway trust private once public finances improve. It is one of several proposals put forward to Putrajaya on reducing toll charges. But the fine print is that for toll charges to fall, the finite-life concession model must be rejigged to a perpetual licensing regime, allowing investors to enjoy returns forever. (The Edge Markets)

Singapore office landlords get upper hand as rentals jump
When it comes to renting an office in downtown Singapore, the tables have turned. Landlords now have the upper hand in rental negotiations, with leasing rates in the city-state’s prime business districts rising at the steepest pace in more than four years. Rents are forecast to remain firm until at least 2022, when new supply is expected to come into the market. Grade A office rents are expected to rise by 11% this year and 9% in 2019. Rising rents and shrinking leasing opportunities are driving occupiers to explore locations outside, and offices outside the CBD can look forward to enjoying spillover demand. Demand has continued to outpace supply for the fourth consecutive quarter, which has resulted in a fifth straight quarter of rental growth. (The Star Online)