IRB records 486,360 cases of voluntary tax declarations
The Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (IRB) recorded 486,360 cases of voluntary tax declarations under the special voluntary declaration programme (PKPS) as of June 23. The PKPS, which began on Nov 3 last year and ends on Sept 30, offers lower penalties of between 10% and 15% compared with up to 300% once it lapses. Among the categories under the PKPS is the reporting of previous income or a lower income declared, claiming for more than what was spent or not allowed, relief, having claimed for a higher rebate. Also included in the PKPS is the reporting of profit on the disposal of assets, namely land, shares in realty companies and letters of attachment that had not been stamped. The amount in collection will be announced at year-end. (The Sun Daily)

Building permit approval period shortened from 390 days to 90 days
The Economic Action Council (EAC), chaired by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has decided that the building permit approval period will be shortened to 90 days from 390 days. “This proposal will be implemented immediately by removing unnecessary requirements, without involving amendments to existing laws,” the Ministry of Economic Affairs announced in a statement. The announcement came less than a month after Dr Mahathir said the government was looking at reducing the number of processes that businesses and investors need to go through to do business in Malaysia, starting with the construction sector. (The Edge)

ECRL may be re-launched July 25, says Loke
The newly revived East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project may be celebrated in a re-launch ceremony on July 25, says Transport Minister Anthony Loke. He said Malaysian companies are also set to play a larger role as they will take on 40% of the project’s civil works. Loke added that the project had the potential to boost the economy while effectively improving connectivity. The ECRL was put on hold for several months from July 2018 as terms of its construction were renegotiated. Under the new deal, the project’s development cost was brought down from RM66bil to RM44bil and the previous 688km line was also shortened by 40km. Loke also hinted that there may also be “good news” in about two months concerning the Rapid Transit System (RTS) connecting Johor Baru and Singapore. (The Star Online)

HOC 6-month sales below expectations
The Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) recorded sales of 1,144 property units valued at RM650.87 million as at June 7 this year, much lower than the figures targeted by the industry. Housing and Local Development Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, however, did not provide a breakdown on the units sold. The six-month sales figure accounts only a fifth of the RM3 billion sales target set by the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (Rehda) for the initial January-June campaign period. It is hard to judge the success without the exact breakdown of the units sold. The sector faces a severe glut due to overbuilding in the last few years and prices are beyond the purchasing power of the majority of the population. Besides prices, poor locations and lack of infrastructure have turned away many prospective buyers. (The Malaysian Reserve)

No local govt elections pending Cabinet decision
Local government elections will not be held anytime soon until a Cabinet decision is reached. Housing and Local Government (KPKT) minister Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah said the ministry is preparing a paper on the matter to be presented to the Cabinet by end of the year. He said in order for local government elections to be held, the Local Government Act 1976 needed to be reinstated. He also said amendments would have to be made to Acts under the Election Commission, besides the creation of a new law. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had last year dismissed any possibility of instituting local council elections, saying they would create racial conflicts and widen the urban and rural gap, saying it could end up producing the “wrong results.” (NST Online)