Contractors Grade 1 to 4 allowed to operate under Phase One

Contractors from Grade 1 to Grade 4 are now allowed to carry out house renovations under Phase One of the National Recovery Plan (NRP), after an update was made by the National Security Council on the types of permitted construction work. According to Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, these kinds of construction are within the categories where physical distancing is much more easily achieved. “Many of these contractors and house owners have appealed to the government to allow them to operate as their house renovations were interrupted during the pandemic,” said Fadillah. A Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) grading is a rank given to a construction company based on the value and experience of its past construction projects. G1 companies can undertake projects up to RM200,000; G2 up to RM500,000; G3 up to RM1mil while G4 contractors can undertake projects up to RM3mil. He also stated that for construction of new houses under phases One and Two of the NRP, all construction sites which provide accommodation for their workers are allowed to operate. (The Star)

PM: SOP relaxation for fully vaccinated individuals to be announced in a day or two

The relaxation on Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP) for fully vaccinated individuals will be announced in a day or two, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. He said the National Security Council (MKN) had looked into and gave their fair consideration to the proposed SOP relaxation and leeway. “The relaxation and leeway such as travelling interstate or interdistrict, visiting parents or spouses for those in long-distance relationships, are the things that we will announce,” he said. He added that the announcement would also include the social sector such as dining in, sports and recreational activities. (Malay Mail)

Malaysia approves use of Moderna vaccine

The mRNA-based vaccine from ModernaTX Inc is the latest to join Malaysia’s line-up of Covid-19 jabs after it received the Health Ministry’s approval for emergency use. Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the Drug Control Authority (DCA) agreed to give conditional approval to Spikevax, or what is commonly known as the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. He said the approval was for Spikevax that is registered to Zuellig Pharma Sdn Bhd and manufactured by Rovi Pharma Industrial Services in Spain. So far, the vaccines that have been approved for usage in Malaysia are Comirnaty from Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, CoronaVac by Sinovac Biotech, Sinopharm, Johnson & Johnson and CanSino. Spikevax is typically administered in two shots, 28 days apart. The decision was made at a DCA meeting yesterday, which also saw Malaysia’s Covid-19 daily cases breaching the 20,000 mark for the first time since the pandemic began, with the 20,596 cases. (The Star)

Moderna Covid-19 vaccine
(Source: Bloomberg)

Home prices boom after more than a year of Covid

The Covid-19 pandemic and all the problems that came with it correlate with significant home price gains in three out of four of the world’s top cities – Kuala Lumpur is ranked 15th in price gains, with the median asking price climbing by 5.9% to US$421,000 (RM1.8 million) in July 2021. According to Juwai IQI’s report “Pandemic Home Prices Boom in Three-Quarters of Global Cities Q3 2021”, Kuala Lumpur is also the ninth-ranked city with buyers from China. Juwai IQI group co-founder and CEO Kashif Ansari said however, activity is reduced, and transactions were down 12% in the first quarter of 2021. “With an emphasis on digital technologies, the social safety net and global trade, the economy will turn the corner in Q4 and begin to bounce back in 2022,” he said. He said one reason prices are higher is because the pandemic stimulated a tremendous response from governments and central banks. Up till now, government bailouts have reached US$17 trillion – and likely to increase in the next six months. Low interest rates have pushed the prices of assets higher, including real estate. (The Sun Daily)

China aims to provide 2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses, Malaysia among producers

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday said China will strive to provide 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to other countries in 2021, state broadcaster CCTV reported. Xi also said China would donate $100 million to the COVAX global vaccine distribution scheme, according to the report. Sinovac Biotech, one of the major Chinese vaccine suppliers, has signed cooperation agreements with 20 foreign countries involving nearly 900 million vaccine doses of its shot, said its chief executive Yin Weidong. Apart from China, Sinovac’s partners in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, and Egypt will also partake in producing these doses, Yin said, without specifying during which time frame the doses will be delivered. Sinovac will apply to regulators in various nations for clinical trials and emergency use authorization for two new versions of its vaccine, tweaked to target the Delta variant and Gamma variant respectively, in the near future, Yin said. (The Star)

RM114m seized at Pavilion condo returned to Najib

Some RM114 million in cash seized during a dramatic raid at Pavilion Residences in 2018 has been returned to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak via his representative, according to a source. This came after the High Court on May 20 dismissed the application by the government to forfeit the money, followed by the prosecution’s move not to appeal against the decision. The RM114 million, which was mostly in foreign currencies and purportedly linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), was claimed by Najib, a former president of Umno, and by the party itself. A source said that the money was returned through a representative of Najib, but it was not clear if the cash was given to Umno. The RM114 million was seized during a police raid on a luxury condominium unit owned by OBYU Holdings Sdn Bhd on May 17, 2018, shortly after the previous general election. Justice Jamil in his judgement said the prosecution had failed to prove that the money was obtained from illegal activities. The condo raid yielded between RM900 million and RM1.1 billion worth of valuables, including close to 12,000 pieces of luxurious jewellery, handbags, watches and cash. (The Edge)