Budget 2021: Amended and passed for the rakyat

The approval of Budget 2021 at the policy stage during the Dewan Rakyat sitting yesterday after going through intense debates provides confidence that the interests of the people and the country are being prioritised, especially during this difficult COVID-19 period. Economic analysts also welcomed the improvements announced by Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, especially involving the extension of the loan moratorium to a wider target group, and allowing eight million Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributors to withdraw up to RM10,000 from their Account 1 in one lump sum instead of RM6,000 over 12 months. Approval of the Budget would enable the government to focus on providing assistance to the people, especially in terms of employment opportunities. The Dewan Rakyat passed Budget 2021 at the policy-level after the Finance Minister made several amendments based on the recommendations made by MPs from both sides of the divide. (Bernama)

EPF withdrawal up to RM10k

Employees Provident Fund (EPF) members can now withdraw up to RM10,000 from their Account 1. Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said the i-Sinar facility was now widened to all EPF members who lost their jobs or whose income suffered due to the pandemic. Currently, only two million members qualify for the i-Sinar facility but now it has been extended to more than eight million members. He said those affected need to either apply online or go to the nearest EPF office and show proof of their loss of employment, unpaid leave notice, reduced salary, allowance or overtime claims, or even reduction of income if they were self-employed. Tengku Zafrul reminded that every withdrawal from EPF must be done with full responsibility as it was a collective responsibility for all members. He also said it was the government’s responsibility to find the balance between the needs of today and the retirement security for the future of EPF members. (The Star Online)

Selangor land agency lifts restrictions on online transactions

The Selangor Lands and Mines Department has removed the daily quota of registering land transactions, currently restricted due to the conditional movement control order (CMCO). A letter issued by department director Yusri Zakariah said it had agreed to conduct limitless transactions via its “Smartbox ” system from today. The department had received requests from many parties, especially legal firms, to raise the capacity to make payments. Early this month, the Selangor Bar Committee had urged the department to increase the daily quota for land transactions, even though it had raised the limit from 200 to 300. The “Smartbox” system previously only allowed 300 daily transactions to be conducted at the department’s headquarters in Shah Alam as only 30% of the staff were working in the office because of the CMCO. Under the system, legal firms would key in details of a specific land transaction online and the system would generate a payment bill the next day. (Free Malaysia Today)

Malaysian IPO market’s outlook positive going into 2021

The outlook for the initial public offering (IPO) market in Malaysia going into 2021 is positive even amid the Covid-19 pandemic as more companies are exploring IPO opportunities given the increased retail participation landscape. Deloitte Malaysia disruptive events advisory leader Wong Kar Choon said even as the economy is impacted by drawn out lockdowns, it sees a positive impact on the local capital market. “Companies are trying to plan ahead in terms of going for listing and trying to upgrade their digital platform to have a bigger market outreach,” he said. Bursa Malaysia originally expected 40 listings this year and with 18 listings done so far, Wong presumed that some of the remaining companies may get listed in 2021. Of the 18, there are two Main Market, 10 ACE Market and 6 LEAP Market listings. Bursa Malaysia has mustered IPO fund raising of US$481 million (RM1.96 billion) in the first 10½ months of 2020, surpassing the US$447 million raised in 2019. Capital markets across Southeast Asia stayed resilient in 2020 despite a host of uncertainties. For some countries, real estate investment trusts (REITs) continue to remain an attractive asset class with low volatility and above-market dividend yields, and provide exposure to high-quality properties, healthcare facilities, e-commerce or digitalisation-related assets. For the second consecutive year, Thailand remains in pole position for the highest funds raised across Southeast Asia. (The Sun Daily)

PM: M’sia on China’s vaccine list

Malaysia has been listed as one of the countries to be given priority to receive the Covid-19 vaccine from China which will be distributed soon, says Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. He said the assurance was conveyed to him by China’s outgoing ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian during a farewell visit to the Parliament building yesterday. Bai Tian officially began serving as the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia on November 28, 2017, and will end his term on November 27, 2020. The Malaysia-China agreement on the supply of Covid-19 vaccines will be a catalyst for greater scientific cooperation and collaboration between the two countries, said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah. Malaysia and China were reported to have signed a virtual agreement involving Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and his Chinese counterpart Wang Zhigang on November 18. (The Star Online; Malay Mail)