Malaysia to keep border shut, says senior and defence minister

Closed since March, Malaysia’s border will not reopen after the country’s current Covid-19-related curbs end on Aug 31. “We are not ready to relax what is being enforced at the moment,” Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said. Most non-Malaysians cannot enter the country, prompting businesses in sectors that depend on foreign workers to complain of labour shortages. The ban on foreign tourists has hammered a sector that accounts for 10%-15% of gross domestic product during busy years. Most Malaysians cannot leave the country, though the land crossing into Singapore saw a part-reopening on August 17 for Malaysians who commute into the city-state for work. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is due to make an announcement about the curbs before the August 31 expiry. The death toll stands at 125, while 8,994 people have recovered after testing positive for the virus. (The Star Online)

Vacancy Tax still under discussion, says minister

The Housing and Local Government Ministry is still studying the vacancy tax and has not made any decision on the matter. Its minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said that at the moment, the study is being conducted based on high-end properties priced at RM500,000 and above. “The ministry is still discussing the issue and we have not made any decision. For the time being, the proposal (for the tax) is being made for high-end premium properties which cost RM500,000 and above,” said Zuraida. At the same time, she said her ministry is also looking into other methods to ensure that developers do not build homes that do not match local needs. Several parties had pointed out that the vacancy tax can have an adverse impact on an already weak property market as not only would the tax affect property developers, it might also be passed on to buyers instead. (Malay Mail)

Selangor only state with housing demand growth in first half of 2020

Selangor was the only major state to show an increase in housing demand in the first half of 2020, up 3.5% year-on-year for subsale (secondary sale) residential properties. Meanwhile, state capital Shah Alam recorded a demand figure of 7.6%, according to a property portal’s H1 2020 Portal Demand Analytics. The analysis gives an overview of subsale property demand using the portal’s user visits and property listings data during the first half of the year for residential subsale properties in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang and Johor. Premendran Pathmanathan, general manager of customer data solutions, REA Group Asia, said the demand was driven by affordable properties in Klang Valley’s suburban areas. “Working from home is becoming a norm. People are starting to look at options for more affordable, larger units.” However, national property demand had declined by 2.5%, with less demand for serviced residences and condominiums, he said. The analysis also showed Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor seeing negative growth in subsale property demand, with Johor recording the biggest property overhang in the country and a 22.8% decrease in demand. (Free Malaysia Today)

Amanjaya under indefinite lockdown

The locality of Amanjaya in Kedah has been put under lockdown indefinitely in a move to control the spread of Covid-19. Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the enhanced movement control order (MCO) that was put in place in the area near Sungai Petani would be indefinite. “All 22,360 residents of 265 houses there will be screened by officers of the ministry,” he said. The areas affected in Amanjaya cover the zones of Kenanga, Mawar and Melur. Residents in the area will not be allowed to leave the locality, even for work. Likewise, outsiders will not be allowed in and roadblocks will be set up. Only essential services in the area are allowed to operate, and they include eateries, supermarkets, petrol stations and pharmacies. Earlier this month, the Kedah government had implemented enhanced MCO in four localities after seeing a rise in positive cases. (The Star Online)

Direct-nego projects under PH only amounting to RM352 mln, not RM6.61 bln – Lim

A day after Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Zafrul Abdul Aziz released the list of 101 projects awarded via direct negotiations worth RM6.61 billion, Lim Guan Eng came forward to explain that the value of direct-negotiation projects approved during the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration was only RM352 million. Lim, who was the former Finance Minister, said the majority of the 101 projects were not new initiatives introduced by the PH administration, but instead were inherited or continued from those approved during the era of Barisan Nasional (BN) administration. This includes the project to upgrade the infrastructure for the Phase 2 Electrified Double Track Project in the Klang Valley awarded to Dhaya Maju Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) Sdn Bhd worth RM4.475 billion, he said. Lim said apart from the project, 31 out of the 101 projects totalling RM1.753 billion were also identified as projects inherited from the BN administration. (Bernama)

(Source: Malay Mail)