BNM cuts OPR by 25bps to record low of 1.75%

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) cut its overnight policy rate (OPR) by 25 basis points (bps) today to a record low of 1.75%, saying that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy is severe and that Malaysia’s economic activity contracted sharply in the second quarter of the year due to measures introduced to contain the pandemic. The central bank said Malaysia’s inflationary pressures are expected to be muted in 2020. BNM said Malaysia’s average headline inflation is likely to be negative this year, primarily reflecting substantially lower global crude oil prices. “The reduction in the OPR provides additional policy stimulus to accelerate the pace of economic recovery. The MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) will continue to assess evolving conditions and their implications on the overall outlook for inflation and domestic growth.” it said in a statement. Including today’s OPR cut, BNM has slashed the OPR four times so far this year for a cumulative 125bps reduction. (The Edge)

Muhyiddin: Population and housing census crucial for country’s development planning

The Population and Housing Census conducted every 10 years gives an accurate picture of the country’s current demographics which will serve as a source of reference and important foundation for the country’s development planning. Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin when launching the Malaysian Population and Housing Census 2020 (Census 2020) said, through the census, the size, distribution, composition and socioeconomic characteristics of the people and housing in Malaysia can be identified. He added that the information provided through the census will shape the lives of future generations, leading the country to greater heights. Meanwhile, Muhyiddin said the government is committed to continuing the country’s development efforts through the 12th Malaysia Plan and the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (WKB2030). (Malay Mail)

Parents worried about Covid-19 can opt to keep kids home

Parents hesitant to send their children back to school fearing the risk of Covid-19 infection can keep them home instead, said the Education Ministry. The Education Ministry’s Deputy Director-General (School Operation Sector) Adzman Talib said parents can decide against sending their children to school out of fear from the pandemic, but reminded them that the schools must be informed. Parents who decide against sending their children to school will need to present an official letter notifying the school of their decision. As for those attending school, Adzman said students with health complications such as asthma or those requiring periodic dialysis, and those with compromised immunity must wear a face mask at all times. Teachers should also keep their masks when teaching at a close proximity. (Malay Mail)

Preschoolers are seated accordingly to maintain social distancing while a teacher conducts a class at Mayter Kindergarten in Cheras July 1, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

First-timers, young renters and investors keen on property post-Covid-19

First-time home seekers and investors are prioritising property as Malaysia enters the recovery stage in the government’s six-phase plan against the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a survey. Young renters aged 22 to 29 years old are least likely to delay their property purchasing decisions. This is coupled with greater intent to purchase by investors, who are more likely to time their purchases according to price and market movements. However, awareness and uptake of alternative financing programmes and digital tools have ample room to grow, despite the fact that Malaysians cite home loan financing, property viewings and information sourcing as key challenges in the property decision-making process. The study showed that 51% of renters and 47% of respondents from 22 to 29 years of age would not delay property transactions due to Covid-19 and its impacts. This compares to 23% of respondents aged 60 and above, underscoring the importance of home ownership to younger groups. Respondents from lower income backgrounds are also less likely to delay their purchases, indicating continuing demand for affordable housing amid economic headwinds. (The Sun Daily)

Employers must follow new housing standards for workers

Human Resources Minister M Saravanan today reminded employers that the government will not hesitate to take action against those who fail to comply with the amendments to the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446). Amendments to the act came into force on June 1, mandating a minimum space requirement for workers’ accommodation, basic facilities as well as safety and hygiene standards. While the government has given employers a grace period till Aug 31, several employer groups and stakeholders from the construction sector have voiced concern about their ability to comply with the amendments, especially due to the economic downturn and Covid-19. “That is not a valid excuse… The amendments were passed in Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara last July, and that was before Covid-19. The rules are strong enough, and the fines can reach up to RM50,000,” said Saravanan. (Free Malaysia Today)