LRT3 project to resume in 2H
Works on the light rail transit 3 (LRT3) project are expected to resume in the second half of this year, according to Malaysian Resources Corp (MRCB). “The LRT 3 project is already 10% completed and we are at the redesigning stage,” said MRCB CEO Kwan Joon Hoe. The LRT 3 project has been stalled for almost a year pending a review of its RM31.65 billion cost. The government then approved the continuation of the 36km-long track at a reduced final cost of RM16.63bil, less 47% of the original cost. On Jan 25, MRCB-George Kent Sdn Bhd entered into a fixed-price contract with Prasarana, the project owner, instead of adopting a project-delivery-partner (PDP) model. Kwan said the overall LRT 3 project is now valued at RM11.8bil and is expected to be completed in 2024. (The Star Online)

BNM: Slower growth but not heading into recession
The Malaysian economy is expected to remain on the growth path driven by the resilience of private consumption and continuation of civil engineering projects, as well as the recovery from the supply side shocks, said Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus. Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 4.7% in the fourth quarter last year, and annual GDP growth for 2018 was also at 4.7%. She opined that the moderation in economic growth would not lead into recession, and that Malaysia is “in a position to weather the storm” ahead on the back of a current account surplus, adequate total reserves, and the banks are in a strong position in terms of capital and liquidity. Additionally, the foreign currency reserves Malaysia holds is “enough” to buffer any impact of a weaker ringgit. (The Edge Markets)

Protecting margins among challenges faced by affordable developments
Is it possible to provide homes that are not only affordable and of high quality but also financially sustainable to the developers? CBRE | WTW managing director Foo Gee Jen said for a developer, the hardest thing to do is to construct and price houses at a range affordable to the home-seeking population segment while at the same time getting a profit return to commensurate with the capital investment and risks involved. He noted that for a developer, the hardest thing to do is to construct and price houses at an affordable range while at the same time getting a profit return to commensurate with the capital investment and risks involved. Developers have adopted a more cautious approach since 2016 and the sentiment would continue until they are certain that the property market has bottomed out. “We do not expect more developers to diversify, but rather they would scale down development activities until the market picks up,” added Foo. (NST Online)

Unlicensed hotels, Airbnb operators urged to register with Tourism Ministry
Unlicensed hotel operators and those offering vacation rental services on Airbnb, must register with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture immediately to avoid legal action. “The ministry is also actively tracking down unlicensed operators and our advice is for them to register with us,” said Tourism Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi. Delays in registering could subject the operators to stern action from ministry and the local authorities. On Airbnb, Mohamaddin said the ministry had held discussions with the Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) on implementing certain conditions for the business. “The ministry is in talks with KPKT to identify new mechanisms for business registration for Airbnb operators across the country,” he said. (Malay Mail)

Penang to study need for new airport in Batu Maung
Penang will be commissioning a study on possibly building a new international airport on reclaimed land next to Batu Maung. Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) has said it is willing to conduct the study for Penang. “They will conduct the study for us by getting a budget from the transport ministry,” he said. If NCIA could not obtain funds from the federal government, the state government will finance the study on its own. The study will take into account Kedah’s proposed Kulim International Airport and any other proposals in the northern region. It was reported in December that Kedah plans to build the estimated RM1.6 billion airport in Kulim through a private initiative. (Malay Mail)