RPGT to be calculated from year 2000
The Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) valuation on property would only be calculated from the year 2000 onwards, says Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng. This was done to give clarity on the issue following feedback from concerned property owners who have bought and owned land extending decades before 2000. The government had announced in Budget 2019 that RPGT was raised to 5%, but the cut-off date of evaluation was not clarified. The tax is exempted on low-cost houses and affordable housing priced below RM200,000, among others. (NST Online)

Najib admits Jho Low cheated Malaysia, but blames Goldman Sachs
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has admitted that the nation was cheated by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, but accused investment bank Goldman Sachs, lawyers and auditors for failing to protect the country’s interests in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. “The responsibility of this bank and all the rest was to protect Malaysia’s interests. If they failed to protect Malaysia’s interests, how would I know?” said Najib, who was then finance minister and chairman of 1MDB, in a recent interview. He added that before 1MDB, Low was seen as someone who brought in investments due to his close ties to the Middle East, especially to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. In March 2015 however, Najib said that Low had no involvement with 1MDB and that all decisions and transactions were made by the company’s management and board of directors, which he chaired. (The Star Online)

Luxury property prices rose 2.7% globally, weakest in six years
The price for luxury properties increased 2.7% on average across 43 cities in the year to September 2018, according to the latest Prime Global Residential Cities Index Q3 2018 launched by Knight Frank. The price increase represents the index’s weakest performance in annual terms for almost six years. Rising interest rates, cooling measures and worsening prospects for global growth are all contributing factors to Asia-Pacific’s prime market slowdown. Leading the index is Singapore with prime prices up 13% over the 12-month period, followed in second place by Hong Kong with 5.5% growth. Kuala Lumpur ranked 29 in the index with prime prices up 0.7%. (NST Online)

Zuraida: Rent-to-own scheme to be expanded
The government is looking to expand the rent-to-own (RTO) scheme for the bottom 40% income (B40) group on government-owned properties. Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said this would help ease the burden of low-income earners who were facing difficulties in obtaining housing loans. Besides the RTO, Zuraida said the B40 could also find properties priced RM160,000 and below which required them to pay about RM600 per month. The National Home Ownership Campaign would be held for six months next year to help clear the backlog of unsold residential properties, especially those priced between RM300,000 and RM500,000. “The campaign will be held in Kuala Lumpur and houses across Malaysia will be sold during the period. But it should also be held in other states… We hope to kick start it in January 2019,” she said. (NST Online)

Superyacht “Equanimity”(Photo from WSJ)

Maintaining Equanimity cost govt RM3.5mil
The government spent RM3.5 million on the upkeep of superyacht Equanimity and its crew until October 10 this year, said the Finance Ministry. The luxury vessel is said to have been bought by Penang-born fugitive financier Low Taek Jho with funds from 1MDB. The RM3.5mil upkeep covers the costs for port services, crew, maintenance and legal fees. Equanimity is currently docked at Langkawi, Kedah where it has been since November 14. Previously, it was berthed at Port Klang, Selangor. (Malay Mail Online)