Pre-schools, kindergartens allowed to re-open from July 1

Pre-school facilities and kindergartens can resume operations from July 1, subject to strict compliance of standard operating procedure, announces Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob. He said the Education Ministry had tabled the SOP for this at the special Cabinet meeting on non-health related issues pertaining to the movement control order on Monday (June 15). Ismail Sabri said the ministry will detail out the SOP soon, which includes procedures that must be in place before entering classrooms and at the end of each day’s session as well as SOP during playtime. There are 6,216 pre-schools under the Education Ministry, 7,887 public pre-schools and kindergartens, 1,781 under the National Unity Ministry and 8,335 of such facilities under the Rural Development Ministry. (The Star Online)

More property owners keen to sell now, say estate agents

Real estate agents say they are receiving more calls from house owners keen to sell off their property because of cheaper loans to buyers and an exemption on property tax for sellers. Lim Boon Ping, president of the Malaysian Institute of Real Estate Agents (MIEA), said the government had provided incentives to stimulate the market via the Penjana economic stimulus package for property. “We are seeing more motivated sellers willing to negotiate prices as they know buyers have more choices now but the market will not crash as there will not be fire sales (urgent sale, often at a steep discount), ” he added. There were zero transactions during the MCO but during the CMCO in May, he said agents received more enquiries to sell their properties as people were allowed to view properties. However, more people are expected to rent rather than buy, he said. (Free Malaysia Today)

Cagamas ready to support housing loan market

Cagamas Bhd anticipates housing loan finance to increase albeit at a moderate pace as the relaunch of the Home Ownership Campaign helps boost the property market. The national mortgage corporation’s president and CEO Datuk Chung Chee Leong said some first-time homebuyers may adopt a wait-and-see approach amid job security concerns in the current uncertain economic conditions triggered by Covid-19. “Nevertheless, we expect pent-up demand from those with secured jobs to continue as people may find some properties are being offered at attractive prices,” he said. Cagamas plays a role by purchasing housing loans and home financing from banking institutions to support their generic liquidity requirements. (The Malaysian Reserve)

EPF records RM12.16b gross investment income in Q1 2020

The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) recorded a gross investment income of RM12.16 billion for the first quarter ended March 31, 2020, in what has been an exceptionally challenging period due to the Covid-19 pandemic. EPF CEO Tunku Alizakri Alias said the pandemic had a massive impact on an unprepared world, with lives being forever transformed and economies crashing to unprecedented levels. He said fixed income instruments contributed RM4.87 billion to gross income while real estate and infrastructure, as well as money market instruments, contributed RM0.43 billion and RM0.54 billion respectively. Equities registered RM6.32 billion, or 52% of total gross income. “It is critical that we learn our lessons and adapt accordingly so that we can take advantage of the opportunities the Covid-19 crisis has presented. We must redesign our global infrastructures as well as economic and social models for a better future for all of us,” he said. (Malay Mail)

Malaysian unemployment rate will not see double-digit spike

Unlike what has been witnessed in countries badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, unemployment in Malaysia will not see a double-digit spike, despite more unfavourable labour market news anticipated in the coming months, according to Sunway University Business School Professor of Economic Dr Yeah Kim Leng. Latest figures released by Malaysia’s Department of Statistics showed April unemployment hit 5% – the highest level seen since March 2009 – from 3.9% reported in the previous month. This was attributed to the closure of operations for most businesses due to the implementation of the MCO which resulted in loss of employment and the inability to secure employment by job seekers. “However, subdued consumer spending, decline in external demand and continuing fear of virus resurgence will keep a lid on business and household spending from returning to normal,” said Yeah. Socio-Economic Research Centre (SERC) executive director Lee Heng Guie said the surge in unemployment is not a surprise. “In the months ahead, the unemployment rate is expected to rise further to around 5.5-6.5%,” he said. “Many businesses, especially SME have laid off workers to reduce operating costs.” (The Sun Daily)