MCO extended another two weeks until May 12

The movement control order (MCO), which is supposed to end on April 28 after two extensions, will continue to May 12 with the possibility of a further extension, says Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. He added that although there was a recent downward trend in new Covid-19 infections in the country, measures were still in place to fully contain the spread of the virus. If the MCO was further extended, he said, this would mean that many might be unable to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri in their respective hometowns or even work as usual unless under a permissible sector. The government was considering allowing more specified sectors and sub-sectors to resume operations but subject to strict conditions to ensure the people’s health and safety. (The Star Online)

Putrajaya planning for swift revival of Malaysia’s economy after MCO

Putrajaya is planning for the fast revival of the nation’s economy, albeit in phases, after the movement control order (MCO) ends, said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. In his special address on the eve of Ramadan, Muhyiddin said that this includes drafting a framework for short- and medium-term economic revival to repair the country’s financial standing. “The focus now is to identify the steps and initiatives which would boost short-term and mid-term economic development, as well as inculcate confidence in people and investors, to revitalise the nation’s economy,” he said. Muhyiddin added that among the initiatives being planned were to build the capacity and skills of the people, promote domestic spending, increase the resilience of industries including small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and foster a more positive investment environment for the future. (Malay Mail)

Gloomy outlook for commercial properties in Penang, Johor and Sabah

The commercial property market in Penang, Johor and Sabah are expected to remain in the doldrums as weak sentiments prevail for the remainder of the year, according to a Knight Frank Malaysia survey. The Regional Commercial Real Estate Investment Sentiment Survey (RCREISS) 2020 for Penang, Johor and Sabah highlighted that the economic toll from the Covid-19 pandemic continues and has yet to be calculated, and recovery, when it comes, will be a welcome relief. Knight Frank Penang executive director Mark Saw said the industrial sub-sector will undoubtedly continue to be a beacon of Penang’s economy. It was also anticipated that REITs will resume their search for similar assets post-Covid-19 as demand continues to remain strong within certain localities. The 2020 survey also revealed that interest in healthcare investment is not limited to hospitals offering medical treatment but also to other alternative investments focusing on wellness such as retirement villages and senior living. (Malay Mail)

Property developers well-prepared to face Covid-19

Property developers are well-prepared to cope with the economic impact of COVID-19 compared with the 2008 financial crisis. Hartamas Real Estate Group founder and group managing director Eric Lim said many development projects done had been financed through equity financing rather than bank borrowings and while some developers formed joint-ventures with land owners to undertake projects. “On that basis, exposure to gearing is much more manageable. I would think this time around, we will be better prepared,” he said on the possibility that the pandemic could trigger a corporate debt crisis amid the prolonged period of falling property prices. Lim said he expected the property sector to recover in the fourth quarter of this year and normalise by early next year. Some even expect the property sector to surge by 2021. (NST Online)

World Bank: Malaysia has little space for fiscal response if Covid-19 fallout drags on

The World Bank has cautioned the Malaysian government about its inability to respond effectively should the Covid-19 fallout drag on, citing Putrajaya’s limited fiscal space for extended intervention. South-east Asia’s third-largest economy is already struggling to shield its workforce and small businesses from the devastation wrought by the Sars-CoV-2 pandemic. The bank warned that protracted restrictions could do more damage, given the little monetary options left for the government to extend help, even as the Muhyiddin administration injected a RM260 billion stimulus to retain jobs and keep businesses afloat. Over 40% of the country’s 16 million workers are already left out of existing employment social protection, the bank noted. Economists estimate losses from the shutdown to be at least 25% of GDP, with a partial recovery is only expected towards the year end. (Malay Mail)