Malaysia’s population is now estimated to be 32.6 million
Malaysia’s population this year is estimated at 32.6 million, according to the Malaysian Statistics Department. It was 32.4 million last year. Chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said 29.4 million were Malaysian citizens and 3.2 million were non-citizens, while the sex ratio was 107 males to 100 females. Population aged 0 to 14 dropped 0.5% to 23.3% this year, while the percentage of those aged 65 and above rose 0.2% to 6.7%. “Malaysia is expected to experience an aging population in 2030 with the percentage of people aged 60 and above at 15.3%,” he added. On the population composition based on states, 20% of the total population was in Selangor, followed by Sabah (12%) and Johor (11.6%). The Bumiputera population recorded an increase of 0.2% to 69.3%, while the Chinese dropped 0.8% to 22.8%. Indians and others remained at 6.9% and 1%, respectively. (NST Online)

PAC: No GST money went missing
No money went missing from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) refunds, says the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The funds were used for operational and development expenditures, said PAC chairman Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad. She said the previous government had kept all the GST collection in the Consolidated Fund account and had transferred it in stages as and when it was needed and decided by the GST refund committee. However, this was not in line with Section 54 (2) and Section 54 (5) of the GST Act 2014, which stipulated that all GST collection must be credited into the GST refund account. There had been a controversy over the GST refunds when Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said in August last year that the RM19.4bil GST refunds were “robbed” by the previous Barisan Nasional administration. (The Star Online)

Tony Pua: Plenty of infrastructure projects in the pipeline
There are plenty of infrastructure projects in the pipeline that will be introduced by the government in the near future, says Tony Pua, the political secretary to the Finance Minister. However, without giving further details, he said, those projects would only be announced after studies can prove they are technically feasible and economically justifiable. Pua noted that the government’s position on infrastructure has always been “it needs to be built”. “And the new government’s position is that it should be value for money so that it can generate the maximum possible returns for taxpayers’ funds, as well as maximum multiplier on the economy,” he stressed. The government would continue to leverage on private capital to help in financing infrastructure projects. (The Star Online)

Audit report: Target of building 100,000 Johor affordable houses is far-fetched
Only 1,960 units of affordable houses under the Johor Affordable Homes (RMMJ) scheme can be built on average in five years, thus the target to construct 100,000 units by 2023, is still far-fetched. According to the 2018 Auditor-General’s Report Series 1, this makes the state government requiring 51 years to achieve its target of 100,000 units of RMMJ houses. Attributing to the weakness in the Johor Public Housing (PRJ), the report also showed that seven of the 12 housing projects had public quota distributions less than 80%. The report also mentioned 81.2% of PRJ projects at Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) and 89.5% at Kulai Municipal Council had not yet been built despite the Planning Permission obtained in 2000. (Malay Mail)

Berjaya Land buys luxury hotels in Iceland for US$54m
Berjaya Land Bhd (BLand) is buying a 75% stake in Icelandair Hotels ehf for US$53.63 million (RM222.03 million). The Iceland deal will complement its existing portfolio of 19 city and resort hotels located in Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, Sri Lanka, Seychelles and the UK. Icelandair Hotels, which has an enterprise value of US$136 million (RM558.96 million), operates 20 hotels across Iceland with a total of 1,811 rooms. Its real estate is estimated at 17,738 sq m (or 1.78ha) and includes Hilton Canopy Reykjavik, Icelandair Hotel Akureyri, Icelandair Hotel Mývatn and Icelandair Hotel Hérað. The hotel operator will also open a new 145-room hotel at Austurvöllur Square in Reykjavik’s Parliament district in collaboration with Hilton Hotels in 2020. (NST Online)