Govt announces RM10b additional assistance for SMEs

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and their employees will benefit from a RM10bil financial lifeline. This is the second stimulus package that the government has announced within 10 days. The latest package of measures, dubbed the Additional Prihatin, is aimed at assisting SMEs in riding out the Covid-19 storm. Of the RM10bil, almost 80% will be for additional wage subsidies for those drawing RM4,000 and below monthly. The remaining RM2.1bil in the second package will be in the form of special grants for eligible micro SMEs, with 700,000 of them expected to each receive RM3,000. Companies with more than 200 employees will be eligible for a RM600 wage subsidy for each worker; RM800 for those with 76 to 200 employees, and RM1,200 for companies with less than 76 employees. The wage subsidy is for three months and is meant for employers whose companies have registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) or the local authorities before Jan 1 and are registered with the Social Security Organisation (Socso). The government has also abolished the 2% interest under the RM500mil microcredit schemes offered by Bank Simpanan Nasional. Muhyiddin also announced that landlords of private premises who reduce their rental rates by at least 30% from April to June this year will qualify for tax deductions. (The Star Online)

Malaysia again hits record Covid-19 recoveries, death tally now 62

Malaysia has recorded its highest number of Covid-19 recoveries in a day so far with 236 patients discharged yesterday, the Ministry of Health announced. Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the total recoveries from Covid-19 now stand at 1,241 cases, or 32.72% of the total Covid-19 cases recorded so far. An additional 131 Covid-19 cases were confirmed, which means the total cumulative tally of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia as of noon yesterday stands at 3,793 cases. The death toll from Covid-19 now stands at 62 cases, representing 1.63% of the 3,793 cases recorded in Malaysia so far. In a subsequent Facebook post that celebrated the new recoveries, the Health Ministry said this was the first time since the government’s Movement Control Order was imposed that the daily number of discharged cases have exceeded the daily addition of new Covid-19 cases. (Malay Mail)

Higher unemployment rate weighs consumer spending

Bank Negara Malaysia’s prediction on the rise in unemployment rate of 4.0% involving 629,000 individuals this year would weigh on consumer spending. Socioeconomic Research Centre (SERC) executive director Lee Heng Guie said unemployment could rise higher with more retrenchments despite the pay cuts. Lee said however the country could not avoid an outright recession this year, although the government had allocated over RM250 billion for the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package, which accounted 17% of GDP, that would soften economic damages and economic contraction. The projected deflation is largely attributable to the plunging global crude oil prices that have translated into lower fuel prices as well as moderating consumer demand. Businesses in sectors such as tourism, hospitality, entertainment, air transportation, consumer goods and retail have been hard-hit. He said businesses in property sector are also expected to worsen due to extremely cautious consumer sentiment to commit buying big ticket items amid the stubbornly property overhang. (NST Online)

Lower real property gains tax to zero, urges Rehda

The Johor Real Housing Estate and Developers Association (Rehda) has urged the Federal Government to lower real property gains tax (RPGT) to zero percent following the Covid-19 pandemic. Johor Rehda branch chairman Datuk Steve Chong Yoon On said that reducing the RPGT rates to zero percent for the next one or two years would help the housing sector here. He also urged the state government to release more unsold bumiputera lots as well as reduce the threshold for foreigners to buy property in Johor, which is currently set at RM600,000. Under Budget 2020, the government revised the RPGT imposed on the disposal of properties after five years. (The Star Online)

Berjaya Corp confirms new hotel, apartment project in Greenland

Berjaya Corp Bhd (BCorp) has confirmed that it is embarking on a new property development project in Greenland, and that it will have apartment units for sale and a hotel that will carry the group’s ANSA brand. The hotel, however, will be a three- to four-star hotel and not a luxury one. The project will address the increased demand for accommodation facilities once the new airport in Greenland’s capital of Nuuk is completed, it said, but did not disclose the costs of the project nor its gross development value. The conglomerate said its investments in the two Nordic countries increase its presence in the European region, in line with BCorp’s geographical diversification and revenue expansion. (The Edge)