EPF announces terms and conditions for i-Sinar withdrawals

The Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) has announced the criteria and details regarding the i-Sinar withdrawal facility, which has been further expanded to cover some eight million eligible contributors. Eligible contributors are divided into two categories. The first category encompasses contributors employed in the formal or gig economy sectors; those who are self-employed or have not contributed for a long time; housewives; as well as those who have lost their jobs or been put on unpaid leave. The second category comprises members who are still employed but facing a reduction of 30% or more of their total earnings — which includes salaries, allowance and overtime pay — after March 1 this year, which can only be verified through supporting documents. The EPF said that members may check their application status within two to three weeks after their submission, and payments to successful applicants will be made before the end of the following month. Members with RM100,000 or less in their Account 1 are allowed to withdraw up to RM10,000. Payments will be made to applicants in stages for a maximum period of six months, with a first withdrawal of up to RM5,000. Meanwhile, those with more than RM100,000 in their Account 1 are able to make a maximum withdrawal of 10% of the amount in their account, or RM60,000 (whichever is lower). (Malay Mail)

Amendments to SOP for elections in time of Covid-19 with MoH recommendations

Amendments and improvements to the Covid-19 Prevention Guidelines for the Implementation of Elections take into account three recommendations submitted by the Ministry of Health (MoH), said Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Shabudin Yahaya. He said the three recommendations were the ban on inter-state crossing, house to house campaign and gathering that involves large crowd. “The Election Commission will draw up a stricter and comprehensive guideline to minimise the risk and infection of Covid-19 during the election process, including amendments to the guidelines used during the Sabah state election (PRN),” he said. Among the SOPs that were violated during the Sabah state election were not wearing face masks while at polling stations; failing to observe physical distancing and not recording attendance before leaving the polling station. (Malay Mail)

SPR election voting booth SOP
(Source: Bernama)

E-commerce-driven demand for warehouses to increase post-RCEP

The demand for warehouses and storage facilities is expected to increase as a result of the recently signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, which would largely benefit the e-commerce industry. CCO & Associates (KL) Sdn Bhd ED Chan Wai Seen said the market prospect for warehouses is better compared to office spaces. “Demand for warehouses is spurred by increasing online active trading activities. RCEP will also enhance the industrial property sector. RCEP will facilitate cross-border trade, investments and the easing of non-tariff measures among the participating countries which will promote trading activities and foreign direct investment to Malaysia,” he said. CBRE|WTW group MD Foo Gee Jen said there is an increased demand for micro warehouses to facilitate last-mile delivery. There is also increasing demand for small/micro logistics centres, or warehouses located nearby housing areas for last-mile delivery which could reach the consumers faster,” he said. He added that the RCEP signing would positively impact demand for warehouses as it would contribute almost 25% of the entire world population to Malaysia’s e-commerce market. Being the largest free trade agreement in the world, covering 15 countries with 2.2 billion or nearly a third (29.7%) of the world’s population, RCEP represents US$24.8 billion (RM102.18 billion) or almost a third (28.9%) of the world’s GDP based on World Bank’s 2018 data. (The Malaysian Reserve)

MoH taking wait and see approach to vaccine

The Health Ministry will observe the use of a Covid-19 vaccine in the United Kingdom, which announced a rollout of Pfizer-BioNTech’s drug from next week. Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products regulatory agency allowed the use of the vaccine although it had not been registered. “Because it is an emergency, they allow the use of the vaccine, ” he said, adding that Malaysia would be able to observe the efficacy and side effects of the vaccine in other countries while it continued with the process of registering it. “The registration is conducted through the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA),” he said. Dr Noor Hisham added that if the use of the vaccine in the United Kingdom in the first three months was encouraging and there were not many reports of side effects, it would give Malaysia more confidence to use the vaccine. He, however, said that Malaysia would have to wait for the results of the third phase of a clinical trial before making any decision. “Our agreement for the vaccine is that it must be registered with the Food and Drug Administration and the NPRA,” he said. (The Star Online)

China banking regulator says property market is biggest ‘grey rhino’

China’s property market is the biggest “grey rhino” – a very obvious yet ignored threat – in terms of financial risks, given it is so deeply intertwined with the financial industry, the head of the country’s banking regulator said. Loans related to the property market currently account for 39% of total bank loans in China – to say nothing of a large amount of bonds, equities and trust investments with exposure to it, said Guo Shuqing, who is chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) and party chief of the country’s central bank. “It’s safe to say that the property market is currently the greatest grey rhino in terms of financial risks,” he was quoted as saying. Guo also noted that modern technologies have brought and will continue to bring big changes to the financial industry, with digital currency, cybersecurity and information security emerging as key challenges for regulators. In response, Guo said the CBIRC would use innovative ways to regulate large technology firms to prevent risks and monopolies, while promoting their development, according to the report. (The Star Online)