Health Ministry to decide on MCO extension on April 10, pending data review

The Health Ministry will decide if the movement control order (MCO) will be extended on April 10 after reviewing its collected data. Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said they were monitoring the situation and noted that Malaysians would have to play their part as well. “We hope that by April 10, the data is available for us to make a decision on whether we need to extend it or not,” he said. He encouraged Malaysians to keep staying at home, continue personal hygiene practices like hand-washing and to maintain social distancing. Dr Noor Hisham also said there was a backlog of cases every day. He said this was because new patients were being tested every day and its reporting mechanism is based on figures at noon. (The Star Online)

Malaysian house prices remain seriously unaffordable’

Malaysian house prices remain seriously unaffordable relative to income, due to a pronounced and prolonged mismatch between demand and supply of residential property. Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) in its Financial Stability Review (Second Half 2019) report said nevertheless, risks of a sharp correction in house prices will continue to be mitigated by firm demand for housing, particularly for properties priced below RM500,000. The central bank said Malaysian house prices continued to grow moderately in the third quarter of 2019, on the back of steady demand for affordable high-rise properties. Demand for affordable housing units continued to outstrip supply by a wide margin, indicating room for further adjustments in prices, particularly for new housing stock, BNM said. Supply rebalancing, on the other hand, has been underwhelming. The average volume of newly-launched residential properties priced below RM300,000 has declined in recent quarters despite strong demand from households. (The Sun Daily)

Industrial property sub-sector seen as resilient

As the local property market endures one of its toughest periods in recent history amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the industrial sub-sector is seen as the most resilient to weather the uncertainties ahead. Rahim & Co International Sdn Bhd real estate agency chief executive officer Siva Shanker said the industrial sub-sector will likely see the quickest recovery once businesses start to pick up again. Siva said the reason the sector remained stable compared with a lot of other sub-sectors was because there is virtually no speculators within the industrial sector. “That’s mainly because the sector is close to equilibrium. By that, I mean demand and supply are as close as possible, unlike the residential property segment, unless you take into account the small, cookie-cutter units,” he said. These units comprise terraces and semi-Ds that are generally 100,000 sq ft in size and below. On the flipside, during good times, Siva said residential property prices could surge by as much as 30% in a year. (The Star Online)

Allow 50% workforce in three sectors, govt urged

The Lion Group is urging the government to allow at least half of the workforce within the manufacturing, construction and mining sectors to resume operations during the movement control order (MCO). Executive chairman Tan Sri William Cheng said currently about 80% of the businesses in the manufacturing, construction and mining sectors were not working, which will result in a combined loss of 2.5% or RM35.4bil per month to GDP. The Lion Group is involved in the retail, property development, mining, steel, agriculture and computer sectors. Cheng, who is also president of the Malaysia Steel Association, noted that during the Covid-19 lockdown in Wuhan, China in February and March, operations like the Wuhan steel mill and other manufacturing activities were still allowed to carry on, subject to precautionary measures being taken. (The Star Online)

No funds or developer for Kampung Baru yet, says FT minister

There are no funds or developers for Kampung Baru’s purported redevelopment that sparked controversy last year, Tan Sri Annuar Musa said. The Federal Territories minister said these were among some of the concerns not revealed earlier to the landowners. In January, former Federal Territories minister Khalid Abdul Samad said Kampong Bharu Development Corporation (KBDC) had met landlords and the community to discuss many of the area’s ongoing issues. Khalid also said that KBDC had already met 50 per cent of the 5,374 landowners in Kampung Baru, of these, he said, 97 per cent had indicated that they are ready to sell their lots to make way for the Kampung Baru Development Plan, which had yet to be finalised. However, Annuar has contradicted this statement, saying only 60% had agreed to sell their lots. (Malay Mail)