12th Malaysia Plan to be reviewed, restructured in wake of Covid-19

The government will restructure the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) by taking into account the impacts of Covid-19, which has caused economic slowdown in the country as well as globally. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Arthur Joseph Kurup said though the plans for the 12MP are nearly complete, the government would nevertheless need to go back to the drawing board. This, he said, is in order to relook at several economic targets of the plan while taking into account the global pandemic. He said what needs to be reviewed is the country’s dependence on the oil and gas sectors, which contribute as much as 20% to the government’s coffers. Kurup said the government is developing a short, medium and long-term Economic Recovery Plan to restore the country’s economy as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. For now, the government plans to gradually reopen several sectors of the economy to ensure post Covid-19 economic recovery. (NST Online)

Penang to revise affording housing prices to below RM300,000

Penang will be reviewing its affordable housing price to below RM300,000 and increasing the number of rent-to-own units for first-time homebuyers after the movement control order (MCO) is lifted, state exco Jagdeep Singh Deo announced. The state Housing, Local Government and Town and Country Planning Committee chairman said the housing industry was badly impacted by the MCO and Covid-19 pandemic. He said housebuyers’ capabilities to purchase their own homes will also be impacted. “The current ceiling of RM300,000 on the island and RM250,000 on the mainland will be reviewed and reduced by a certain percentage so that it can be accessible to first-time homebuyers,” he said. He said the housing department and his office will also be engaging with industry stakeholders such as Rehda, the various chambers of commerce and the local authorities on the mechanics of reviewing the affordable housing ceiling prices. (Malay Mail)

Savills Malaysia: Hospitality sector to be worst hit by pandemic

Malaysia’s hospitality sector is expected to be the worst hit among all property sectors, by the Covid-19 pandemic, said Savills Malaysia. It noted that the Malaysian Association of Hotels had projected revenue loss at about RM560mil just for the four-week MCO period, on top of a RM75mil revenue loss in the weeks leading up to the MCO. The retail sector, it said, had not been spared either, although some mall landlords have granted one to three months of rental rebate in view of the MCO period. As Malaysians find a way to work remotely, this will change demand for physical real estate and the way it is used. “The surge in demand for online purchase of goods (groceries and food) during the MCO has highlighted a gap in urban logistics and retail distribution hubs which can be addressed once demand has stabilised to normal levels, ” it said. It added that investment activity is expected to remain slow, coupled with political uncertainty – following the recent changes in Malaysia’s political scene. (The Star Online)

Covid-19 outbreak steepens adoption curve of e-wallets in Malaysia

The use of contactless payments and adoption of e-wallets are on the rise during the coronavirus outbreak and movement control order in Malaysia, with some players seeing subscriber numbers double in the last month. E-wallets are no longer just a convenience, but a crucial part of the “new normal” and may even help flatten the curve, besides helping small and medium-sized enterprises do business during a movement control order (MCO) in place since March 18, say service providers. Using e-wallets is safer and more hygienic, and users can reload and store money in the app without having to queue up at ATM machines. The Penang government, for example, is planning to make all public markets go cashless by June. There are around 50 licensed “e-money issuers” in Malaysia, including five banks. Last year, digital wallets accounted for 7% of e-commerce payment transactions in Malaysia. (The Star Online)

Allow small companies to operate to revive economy, says Malaysian Employers Federation

The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) hopes the government will allow small companies to operate again in stages during the movement control order (MCO) and revive the economy. MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said currently employers, who did not have a source of income and who mostly owned small businesses with fewer than five workers, were finding it tough to pay salaries to their workers. He said the MCO had affected over 650,000 employers nationwide as they did not have large savings or funds. For a start, MEF urged the government to allow companies to operate again with 30% of their employees and by adopting the SOP set by the Ministry of Health. He also called on the government to set a fixed period for the implementation of the MCO, as the staggered extensions made it difficult for employers to plan their business operations. (Malay Mail)