Opportunities in e-commerce


Talk on trade: (from left) Interbase Resouces Sdn Bhd MD and Lelong.com.my co-founder Richard Tan, Chong and SME Association of Malaysia national deputy president Ong Chee Tat during a panel discussion on Global is the New Local: The Changing International Trade Patterns of Small Businesses in Asia Pacific, organised by FedEx.
Talk on trade: (from left) Interbase Resouces Sdn Bhd MD and Lelong.com.my co-founder Richard Tan, Chong and SME Association of Malaysia national deputy president Ong Chee Tat during a panel discussion on Global is the New Local: The Changing International Trade Patterns of Small Businesses in Asia Pacific, organised by FedEx.

 

More SME seen to be embracing technology

WHILE its been a constant lament that local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are not embracing digital technology, a new survey seems to suggest otherwise.

A recent FedEx-commissioned study on trends being adopted by SMEs in Asia Pacific (Apac) has revealed a high adoption of new technologies among local SMEs.

According to the study, Malaysia ranks fourth (among nine Apac countries surveyed) in digital platform implementation and third in adopting Industry 4.0 technologies.

Entitled “Global is the New Local: The Changing International Trade Patterns of Small Businesses in Asia Pacific”, the research revealed that an average of 88% of Malaysian SMEs are adopting digital economy platforms, such as e-commerce, mobile-commerce and social-commerce platforms.

FedEx Malaysia managing director S.C. Chong says it is critical for SMEs to take advantage of technological advancements as a catalyst to enter into new markets, improve customer service support and experience, and provide a more efficient end-to-end customer journey.

“SMEs are the engine of growth and form the backbone of Malaysia’s economy,” he says during a briefing on the survey, last week.

Chong adds that it is encouraging to see SMEs taking the initiative to grow their business through the adoption of new technologies, infrastructure-building, and expansion into international markets.

Citing the survey, he says that 61% of local SMEs are optimistic that the e-commerce platforms will help contribute to increased revenue growth in the next 12 months.

“The study also found that 69% of Malaysian SMEs have incorporated Industry 4.0 technologies into their operations such as mobile payments, automation software and big data / analytics in particular.”

Industrial Revolution 4.0 refers to the paradigm that machines are now able to autonomously adapt and coordinate their tasks to meet human needs.

The survey also shows a significantly high adoption rate of mobile payments among Malaysian SMEs at 90% (higher than the Apac SME average of 73%), with automation software and big data / analytics among the top Industry 4.0 technologies being used by SMEs at 84% and 77% respectively.

In addition, the survey also showed that 78% of respondents agreed that Industry 4.0 technologies have enhanced efficiencies in the supply chain and distribution channels, while helping reduce challenges brought by cross-border payments.

The results of the survey were based on interviews with 4,543 senior executives of SMEs in nine markets in Apac between March and April 2018. The markets included in the research were China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

The interviews were split equally by market with a representative mix of company sizes: micro (one to nine full-time employees), small (10 to 49 full-time employees) and medium (50 to 249 full-time employees).

Each market had an average of 500 respondents.

SME Association of Malaysia national deputy president Ong Chee Tat says SMEs and Industry 4.0 are key components towards the growth of the nation, as Malaysia works towards achieving a high-income economy.

“While technology may have reduced the gap between SMEs and larger industry players, SMEs still face various challenges in the adoption of the latest trends or tools in technology. Most SMEs may find that they lack sufficient finances, knowledge or workforce talent to adopt these new technologies.

“As such, we (the SME Association) are cognisant of the barriers to technology-adoption and continue to guide, empower and support SMEs by providing strategic advice or counsel and initiating networking platforms to facilitate knowledge exchange.”

Ong says that the SME Association is currently looking to set up an SME Academy to help provide training for local start-ups.

“We hope to be able to launch this academy by this year,” he says.

The survey also revealed that 95% of Apac SMEs have made use of digital platforms such as e-commerce (82%), mobile-commerce (72%) or social-commerce (74%) in their business operations.

“In Malaysia, the top social media platforms are Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram,” says Ong.

According to the survey, the top social media platform used in Apac markets is Facebook, with the exception of China (WeChat) and Taiwan (Line).

In comparison, Malaysia has an overall higher adoption rate of e-commerce (90%), mobile-commerce (87%) and social-commerce (86%) compared to other markets in Apac.

Also, the survey says 61% of Malaysian SMEs expressed confidence that the digital economy will help reduce barriers to finding global customers beyond Apac.

Chong says the finding is strongly supported by Malaysia having 146% mobile penetration, 22 million internet users, 18 million active social media users, and seven million online shoppers, leading to Malaysia ranking 31st among the most tech-ready countries around the world.

Meanwhile, Interbase Resouces Sdn Bhd managing director and Lelong.com.my co-founder Richard Tan says that by educating SMEs and raising their awareness on the digital economy, there will be a rise in brick-and-mortar SMEs having an online presence to augment and complement their business.

“At Lelong.my, our integrated online platform which comes with services such as e-payment solutions and digital storefronts, has allowed us to extend our reach to capture the younger generation of increasingly digital savvy customers and merchants.

“As an online retail platform, we continuously evolve and transform ourselves to ensure that we fully understand the consumer journey and experiences to make it a seamless, pleasant one.”

He also says that the rise in digital platforms will not result in brick-and-mortar outlets becoming obsolete.

“I believe they will complement each other,” he says, adding that this is why it’s important for companies to have both a physical and online presence.

“I might see a product at a store somewhere, but may decide to purchase the item off of the company’s website. On the flipside, I might see something online that I might like, but would want to physically see it first, before deciding to buy.”

Tan emphasises that it is in a situation like this that SMEs need to have a presence online.

“You need to have your content displayed on the Internet. If people can’t find your product on the web, they may just decide not to buy it at all. That’s the behaviour of the new group of consumers today.

“You have to digitize your content.”

Chong admits that having products and services accessible via the web nowadays is a given.

“However, there are still products and services that you can’t get online. But it’s important to be able to have your product on the web, so that people can learn about it and either buy it or choose to view it physically at your store.”

Growth opportunities

In conjunction with the recent “Take E-Commerce to the Next Level” conference by DHL Express Malaysia, the logistics firm said in a statement last week that there is great potential for Malaysian SMEs to grow their business overseas through e-commerce.

“By 2020, it is expected that one out of five e-commerce dollars will be generated through cross-border trade. Business to consumer (B2C) e-commerce has grown at a faster pace than most other industry sectors in recent years, with premium cross-border shipments growing from 10% to more than 20% of the volumes of DHL Express.

“This is further boosted by various incentives the government has provided to ensure that the local e-commerce sector has the potential to lift Malaysia’s total trade to RM2 trillion this year.”

Over 100 local SMEs attended the conference.

Its speakers included those from Amazon Global Selling, Payoneer, Everpeaks, Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) and Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade), who shared their insights on the importance of logistics, digital marketing, payment options and sales methodologies as part of the entire B2C ecosystem.

“These takeaways are meant to better equip local SMEs to meet the increasing demand of customers who seek faster fulfilment and more variety at cost-effective prices,” says DHL Express.
In the same statement, e-commerce conglomerate Amazon encouraged more Malaysian SMEs to expand their business by tapping Amazon’s global reach.

Amazon Singapore’s Amazon global selling head Gijae Seong says: “South-East Asia has quickly grown to be one of the most important regions for Amazon Global Selling.

“In the US alone, Amazon has over 150 million monthly unique visitors. We hope that more local SMEs will consider expanding their business globally on Amazon in the future.”

In addressing the challenges of SMEs to expand its presence on a global level, Matrade transformation and digital trade division director Noraslan Hadi Abdul Kadir points out that Matrade is Malaysia’s national trade promotion agency, and therefore has the mandate to promote local SMEs overseas.

“Our eTRADE Programme offers financial incentive valued at RM5,000 per company, which can be utilised to partially cover the on-boarding cost to be listed on world’s renowned e-Commerce platforms the likes of Amazon.com.

“We hope more SMEs can capitalise on the programme to kick-start their cross-border e-commerce business.”

Boost to property sector

The e-commerce boom is also set to be a boost to the local property market, with the industrial sub-sector being its biggest beneficiary.

According to the Valuation and Property Services Department’s (JPPH) Property Market Report 2017, the industrial sub-sector, though contributed the least to the overall property market last year , plays a significant role generating investments and employment opportunities.

“As Malaysia embraces Industrial Revolution 4.0 and the digital economy, a different ball game is expected of the industrial property sub-sector,” it says.

One initiative that is expected to support the sector’s performance, says JPPH, is the setting up of a Special Border Economic Zone in Bukit Kayu Hitam, which will be the new attraction for both domestic and foreign investors on the northern zone of Malaysia.

“Another is the establishment of a Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ), which will see KLIA as the regional gateway. The first phase of DFTZ is foreseen to have 1,500 small and medium enterprises participate in the digital economy and is expected to attract RM700mil worth of investment and create 2,500 job opportunities.

“On the same note, Cyberjaya will be transformed into a global technology hub and a smart city.”

In November, CIMB Research in a report said the industrial segment has a strong growth trajectory through acquisitions and organic growth, given the tight industrial space supply.

“Demand for new high-quality industrial assets will transform the segment, which has led to several new mega-distribution centres that carry high price tags as retailers start turning to logistics.

“Notably, UK-based retailer Marks & Spencer is building a 900,000-sq-ft distribution centre with one million products processing capability per day and will consolidate its 110 warehouses into just four.”

The sector is also expected to be bolstered by the growth of the e-commerce segment.

The growth in e-commerce, which in turn is spurring the online retailers sector, will lead to demand for larger warehouse spaces.

According to JPPH’s Property Market Report 2017, the industrial property sub-sector recorded 5,725 transactions worth RM11.64bil in 017.

“Compared with last year, the market volume increased by a marginal 2.1% but value declined by 3.1%. Most states recorded contractions in market activity but the commendable growth in Selangor and Johor at 19.5% and 9.5% respectively helped support the overall marginal growth.

“These two states accounted for 34.2% and 14% of the total market activity respectively. By type, vacant plots formed 31% of the total transactions, followed by terraced factory with 28.7% market share.”

JPPH says the industrial overhang remained minimal though the volume kept growing since 2016.

“There were 999 units worth RM1.51bil in 2017, showing an increase of 11.4% and 27.1% in volume and value respectively. Johor also took the lead in the industrial overhang with 40.7% (407 units) of the national total.”

JPPH adds that the industrial development front was less active as shown by the marginal increase of 0.4% in completion to record 1,851 units, whilst starts and new planned supply decreased by 20.7% and 34.3% respectively to 850 units and 710 units.

“As at year-end, there were 113,173 existing industrial units, with another 5,675 units in the incoming supply and 7,513 units in the planned supply.

“Prices of industrial property were stable across the board. One and a-half storey semi-detached factories in the Petaling District fetched between RM4.1mil to RM5.7mil. In Johor Bahru, similar factories in Taman Perindustrian Cemerlang ranged from RM2.3mil to RM2.7mil.”

As for the other property sub-sectors, the residential property market recorded 194,684 transactions worth RM68.47bil in 2017, which were 4.1% lower in volume compared with 2016, but they increased by a marginal 4.4% in value.

By price range, demand continued to be in the RM200,000 and below price points, accounting for nearly 45% of the residential market volume.

Last year saw 77,570 units of new launches, higher than those recorded in 2015 (58,411 units) and 2016 (52,713 units).

Kuala Lumpur recorded the highest number of launches in the country with more than 22,000 units. Its sales performance was at a low 19.5%, followed by Selangor with 13,522 units and Johor, 7,926 units.

The commercial property segment, meanwhile, continued to decline but at a modest rate, says JPPH. There were 22,162 transactions recorded worth RM25.44bil in 2017, down by 6.7% in volume and 29.2% in value compared with 2016.

The retail sub-segment’s performance was stable at 81.3% in 2017 compared with 81.4% in 2016, recording an annual take-up of more than 6.78 million sq ft.

Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor and Penang saw a significant take-up rate as their newly completed shopping complexes secured commendable occupancy.

Johor was leading with nearly 2.82 million sq ft followed by Selangor (1.17 million sq ft), Kuala Lumpur (1.01 million sq ft) and Penang (778,833 sq ft).

Credit: Eugene Mahalingam Star SMEBIZ

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Governance woes behind US trade war


 

Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT

For now, there is still no end in sight to the brewing trade war between the world’s two economic heavy hitters. Ignoring voices of objection at home, the Donald Trump administration announced that the second tranche of tariffs on $16 billion in Chinese goods will take effect later this month. Though Trump has yet to fulfill his campaign promise to levy a 45-percent tax on Chinese goods, his logic on trade policy refuses to change.

The reason why the US has provoked and intensified the trade war lies in the incapacity of the global system. Specifically, division of labor in the globalized era has led to the exodus of the US manufacturing industry out of the country. Meanwhile, the US claims that China’s “predatory” economy has developed itself into the biggest beneficiary in the system.

That’s why the Trump administration insists on attacking China’s “stealing” practice in the name of “safeguarding US national interests,” regardless of the cost of torpedoing the existing international order.

The robust stock market and economic growth of the US as well as the decline in unemployment have further boosted Trump’s confidence in escalating the trade war. His trade policy has gained more acceptance among Americans. However, the logic behind his trade war can hardly hold water.

The era of globalization has been an inevitable development of human society. As people in the global village are more interconnected, trans-regional flow of finance, technology, information, service and talent has re-optimized global production resources, inspiring the development of countries and regions.

The unprecedented development of productivity and international division of labor has prompted developed countries which boast capital and technology advantages to transfer their low-end industries to other countries where labor and land costs are relatively low. Then a great many multinationals have mushroomed, which has objectively precipitated the growth of developing countries.

Economic liberalism has become a paragon of democracy with which developed nations dwell upon with relish. It’s also an important pillar for the postwar international order. When developed countries sat on the top of the industrial chain to reap benefits, they never complained about the unfairness of the system but instead became its most powerful defender.

Ironically, the US – the founder of the global system – has now become its most proactive opponent. The Trump administration attacks the “unfair” global system and views China as being complicit in bringing about the fall of the US manufacturing industry and loss of jobs. Such rhetoric has led people to believe that the stature of the US has fallen to a third world country’s.

Globalization is not without problem. Apple is a paradigm of a globalized industrial chain, but it’s not a nice story. Developing countries at the low end of the industrial chain can only get disproportionally meager profits while lucrative gains flow to developed nations. In this way, the US deficit is far less than the book figures.

More severely, low-end manufacturing has worsened the environment, putting the health of the public in jeopardy. But the US-led developed world just passed the buck.

Emerging economies like China are resigned to be just a factory of developed countries, so they work hard to develop hi-tech and produce high-value-added products to create a level-playing field with developed countries. This is the law of market economy, which, however, has become a threat to its national security and an enemy of its economy in the view of the US.

The strange logic can hardly justify itself.

Denying others a share of the spoils is not the essence of the era of globalization. If developed countries think there’s something wrong with the global system, they can appeal to international organizations to carry out reform, instead of resorting to short-sighted practices like threatening with tariffs.

Trump’s trade war actually stems from domestic conundrums notably industrial hollowing-out and loss of everyday jobs. The problems are not a result of globalization but of domestic mismanagement. It seems that forcing jobs back home will create jobs, but it can’t last long because it will fail to stimulate the fundamental driving force of industrial development. If Trump can make more efforts at boosting the real economy instead of waging a trade war, he may get closer to “Make America Great Again.”

Credit: By Zhang Tengjun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/15
The author is an assistant research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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Malaysia’s PM Dr Mahathir visits China to push forward bilateral ties and witness signing of 3 MoUs


Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and China’s Premier Li Keqiang attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing August 20, 2018. — Reuters pic

Dr M greeted by Chinese Premier at official ceremony

//players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5824217851001

 

China, Malaysia to push forward bilateral ties – Yahoo News Singapore

China, Malaysia to push forward bilateral ties – Business News , see more…


BEIJING: China’s Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday his government is willing to promote bilateral ties and economic cooperation with Malaysia as Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad visited China to discuss trade and investment.

The agreements reached on Mahathir’s trip showed the two countries would remain friendly in the long term, Li told a joint news conference at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

Mahathir is seeking to renegotiate, and perhaps cancel, billions of dollars worth of Chinese-invested projects entangled in domestic graft probes.

Ties have been strained since a stunning election victory returned Mahathir to power in May and he then suspended unpopular Chinese projects authorised by former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Najib courted Chinese investment and was a cheerleader for President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative in Southeast Asia during his decade-long rule.

However, Mahathir has vowed to discuss the ”unfair” deals on his visit.

The Malaysian premier said his trip had been fruitful and that he believed China would look sympathetically towards the problems both sides have to resolve.

Addressing Mahathir directly, Li asked if he believed they had consensus on upholding free trade.

“I agree with you that free trade should be the way to go but of course free trade should also be fair trade,” Mahathir said.

“We should always remember that the level of development of countries are not all the same. We do not want a situation where there is a new version of colonialism happening because poor countries are unable to compete with rich countries,” he said. – Reuters

Malaysia welcomes China’s participation in transport projects: People
stand beside the high-speed trains built by China Railway Rolling Stock
Corporation (CRRC) in State of Perak, Malaysia, July 9, 2015

PM’s special visit to China

PRIME Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is scheduled to be in Chi­na from August 17 to 21, during which he is expected to meet President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

The visit is special because Dr Mahathir is returning to China once again as prime minister after a 17-year gap. His last official visit to China as prime minister was in October 2001 to attend the Apec CEO summit.

Dr Mahathir is a regular visitor to China. In the 22 years of his first stint as prime minister (1981-2003), he visited China seven times. He visited nine more times after he retired, making it a total of 16.

This coming visit has an added significance because he is leading a different government and there are several touchy issues standing in the way of good relations between the two countries.

In his previous official visits, he was leading the Barisan Nasional government. In this visit, he is leading Pakatan Harapan which ousted Barisan in the May 9 general election.

Chinese leaders are familiar with Barisan. Back in 1974, it was the leader of this newly-formed coalition Tun Abdul Razak Hussein who made the ground-breaking visit to China. That visit resulted in Malaysia becoming one of the earliest countries in South-East Asia to recognise China.

Bear in mind that although Indonesia recognised China in 1950, their relationship soured and was suspended between 1967 and 1990. Singapore, a predominantly Chi­nese nation, recognised China only in 1990, and Brunei did so in 1991.

It was not an easy decision for Malaysia because it already had diplomatic relations with Taiwan since its independence in 1957.

The recognition of Taiwan was reflective of Malaysia’s pro-Western stance and staunchly anti-communist policy. The armed communist insurgency starting in 1948 did not help to endear Malaysia to China.

With the disbanding of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) following the 1989 peace accord, which involved the MCP and the governments of Malaysia and Thailand, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) became the last remaining vestige of the Chinese revolution in Malaysia.

It was no coincidence that while the MCP was fashioned after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), MCA was the mirror image of the Chinese Nationalist Party, Kuomintang.

Abdul Razak’s own party, the United Malay National Organisa­tion (Umno), was staunchly anti-communist. Still, Abdul Razak pulled it off and received overwhelming endorsement from voters at the 1974 general election in which the enlarged Bari­san coalition was contesting for the first time.

So, given this very long history of mutually beneficial relationship and Dr Mahathir’s own affinity with China, his visit is not only special but also offers the two countries the opportunity to clarify and sort out issues that could stand in the way of good relations.

Dr Mahathir had wanted to visit earlier but time was not favourable. Proving his seriousness about wanting to put the relationship between the new Malaysian government and China on a good footing, he sent Tun Daim Zainuddin as his emissary.

Like Dr Mahathir, Daim is a familiar face in Beijing. Back in the 1980s during his first stint as Finance Minister, Daim took an active part in supporting China’s new role in international financial organisations like the Asian Deve­lop­ment Bank, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

During his visit to Beijing on July 18, Daim handed over Dr Mahathir’s letter to Premier Li and had discussions with Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

It is clear that neither China nor Malaysia would want the 44-year relationship to be jeopardised by issues that cropped up during the time of former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Among these are the Chinese loans for the construction of the East Coast Railway Line (ECRL) and the little known Suria Strategic Energy Resources Sdn Bhd (SSER) pipeline project.

It is highly possible that China, in extending these loans and entering into construction agreements for the projects, was acting in good faith in line with its One Belt One Road (OBOR) policy but along the way, this was perverted by irresponsible elements in Malaysia and China.

Neither China nor Malaysia should suffer the embarrassment and financial losses caused by these people and their associates. The relationship between the two countries is too precious to be allowed to be soured by their irresponsible and criminal actions.

Dr Mahathir said in a recent interview with the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post that his less-than-favourable view of some Chinese-backed deals, deemed overpriced and lopsided against Malaysian interests, did not mean he was hostile towards Beijing.

More recently, he said Malaysia would seek to do away with these projects if they continue to be unfavourable to the country and a burden to the people.

The Pakatan administration and the people of Malaysia must not be made to shoulder the burden of irresponsible acts of Najib and

As Dr Mahathir has pointed out, ­Malaysia and China developed “a very good relationship” during his first tenure as prime minister and there is no reason why this would not continue during his comeback era.

A. KADIR JASIN

akadirjasin.blogspot.com/akadirjasin.com

Dr Mahathir to witness signing of 3 MoUs during China visit

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 16): Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will make an official visit to China from tomorrow until Tuesday (Aug 17-21, 2018) at China’s Premier of the State Council Li Keqiang’s invitation.

Malaysia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement today Dr Mahathir and Li will witness the signing of three memoranda of understanding (MoUs) to mark the strengthening of the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing strategic partnership. The MoUs are in the areas of agriculture and agricommodity, the statement said.

According to the statement, Dr Mahathir will be accompanied by his spouse Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali. The delegation includes Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok Suh Sim, International Trade and Industry Minister Ignatius Darell Leiking, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law) Datuk Liew Vui Keong, Entrepreneurship Development Minister Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof and Perak Chief Minister Ahmad Faizal Azumu, according to the statement.

“This is the maiden visit by YAB Prime Minister to the PRC (People’s Republic of China) after assuming office in May 2018. YAB Prime Minister visited the PRC seven times during his term as the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1981 to 2003.

“During the visit, YAB Prime Minister will be visiting Hangzhou and Beijing. In Hangzhou, YAB Prime Minister is scheduled to meet provincial leaders, undertake a visit to Alibaba Group Corporate Headquarters and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. In Beijing, YAB Prime Minister will be meeting Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping respectively to discuss bilateral issues as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest,” the statement said.

Chong Jin Hun
/
theedgemarkets.com
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Malaysia needs more childcare & daycare centres


https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/08/13/malaysia-needs-more-childcare-centres-dpm-we-are-also-in-dire-need-of-qualified-workers-to-ensure-sa/

PUTRAJAYA: There is a dire need for more qualified childcare workers and registered childcare centres in the country, says Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

The Deputy Prime Minister said that these shortages could adversely affect the safety and quality of care for Malaysian children.

“Data from the Welfare Department showed that up to June this year, the number of childcare workers looking after children four years and below is 16,873.

“Out of this, only 3,173 of them have the minimum qualification of a childcare course,” said Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister.
She was speaking at the launch of the National Childcare Centre Day 2018 themed “Equality” at the IOI City Mall here yesterday.

Dr Wan Azizah added that the rest of childcare workers in the country, all 13,700 or 80.19% of them, did not have the minimum qualification for the job.

She said the lack of qualified childcare workers contributed to the lack of registered childcare centres in the country.

“Calculations based on a census done by Malaysian Statistics Department showed that we need to have 38,333 registered childcare centres.

“However, the actual number at present is only 4,302,” she said.

Dr Wan Azizah said her ministry took a serious view on the safety of children at childcare centres and at the homes of childcare providers.

“We are looking at the need to improve on the Child Care Centre Act and regulations on childcare centres to fit the current needs and situation,” she said.

She added that her ministry was also studying how to utilise information and communication technology to be included in the childcare system in the country. The Star

 

GST vs SST. Which is better?


MALAYSIA’s decision to revert to the Sales and Service Tax (SST) from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will result in a higher disposable income due to relatively lower prices it will incur in most goods and services.

Consumers will have a choice in their consumption – by paying service taxes based on their affordability and ability.

The coverage of GST was comprehensive and it covered too wide a sector. While it was able collect a sustainable sum of RM44bil for the country, it was not people-friendly.

The narrowing scope of the SST will at most, collect approximately RM23bil for the country but it will indeed relieve the people – so SST is needed by the people.

Methodology of SST

The Sales Tax Bill and the Service Tax Bill have just been passed at the Dewan Rakyat and are expected to get approval from the Dewan Negara when it convenes on August 20.

This leaves little room for businesses and entrepreneurs to get ready for the new tax regime in less than a month’s time.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance to understand the concept and mechanism of SST as stated in both the Bills.

SST comprises two legislations. The sales tax is imposed on the manufacturing sector as governed by the Sales Tax Act 2018 while service tax is imposed on selected service sectors, with one of the most notable ones being the food and beverage (F&B) service providers.

The Service Tax Act 2018 would govern the selected service providers and the details would be gazetted in the subsidiary legislation, PU(A) Service Tax Regulations 2018.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has announced that the threshold for F&B providers is set at annual turnover of RM1mil.

This would mean that those who operate with less than RM1mil turnover would not charge service tax at 6%.

This translates into hawker food, cafes, take aways or food trucks being able to provide F&B at lower prices as compared to the GST regime of 6%. Consumers are deemed to be given an option to pay service tax or not, depending on their consumptions at places such as fast food outlets, restaurants or food courts.

Generally, living costs will be relatively lower in the SST era as the B40 group of consumers would certainly be relieved in their daily eating affair.

The existing GST regime sets up the threshold at RM500,000 per year, meaning that almost all restaurants, including simple mixed rice outlets, would have a GST of 6% imposed. The service tax regime would not impose service tax of 6% on service charge rendered in any restaurant or café operator.

Service charge in its true essence, represents tips or gratuity to the waiters working in the restaurant and it is entirely at the discretion of the F&B operators.

These operators may choose to charge from 5% to 15% or even free of charge. In summary, in the event service charge is imposed, it would not be subject to service tax.

SST is people friendly as the daily consumption of food and beverages would be much lower in price as compared to the GST regime. The imposition of service charge is not governed by any law and it is entirely at the discretion of the F&B operators.

In order to avoid disputes, it is advised that notice be placed outside the premises if the F&B operator is imposing a service charge ans the rate determined by them.

SST is one stage

Sales Tax is only imposed one time on the manufacturing company when a sale is made to a trading company. The subsequent sales of the goods by the trading company would have no sales tax imposed.

Business entrepreneurs must be mindful and careful in the cost management as Sales Tax – although imposed at 10% – would eventually result in a much lower pricing of goods as compared to the GST regime.

GST is operating on a value added concept with input tax available as deduction. The supply chain moving from manufacturers to distributors, dealers and to consumers would result in higher pricing as GST is imposed on final stage, comprising of value add and profit margin.

SST is a business cost

Under the GST regime, input tax is available as a credit or deduction against output tax based on tax invoice received from GST registrant suppliers.

This would mean that GST is never a business cost as deduction is available against output tax even though there is no sales generated. Sales Tax on the other hand, would be paid by the trading company purchasing goods from the manufacturing company.

It is a business cost and deduction is only available when there is a sale. This would mean that business cost would be higher as Sales Tax is part of the inventory cost and to be deducted as cost of sales when goods are sold or exported. In simple terms, no sales, no deductions.

Businessmen are urged to carefully analyse the cost and not overprice the goods for the benefits of the people and the sustainability of their businesses. The reduction of GST from 6% to nil would immediately translate a price reduction of 6%, which is a must for a businesses to adhere to.

Failure to adhere to the pricing would expose the operators to the fines and penalties on anti-profiteering governed by Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011.

As the breakdown shows, SST is well suited in the Malaysian environment, to both the business communities and the people.

Source: Dr Choong Kwai FattDubbed the Malaysian tax guru, Dr Choong Kwai Fatt is a tax specialist and advocate.

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Jobs ahead for Pakatan’s first 100 days fiscal reform

Go-ahead likely for Penang LRT


GEORGE TOWN: The approvals from the federal authorities for the RM8.4bil Bayan Lepas light rail transit (LRT) and the massive Penang South Reclamation (PSR) scheme on the southern coast of the island are expected to be obtained before the end of the year.

Sources told The Star that the approvals would be from the Department of Environment, the federal regulator overseeing Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and the Transport Ministry.

The sources said if everything goes on as scheduled, the reclamation project for the three man-made islands would start early next year.

“The LRT project might begin in January 2020,” they said.

The LRT, together with a monorail, cable cars and water taxis, is part of the state government’s RM46bil Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

It will begin from Komtar in the northeast corner of the island and pass through Jelutong, Gelugor, Bayan Lepas and Penang International Airport before ending at the proposed PSR development comprising three man-made islands totalling 1,800ha near Teluk Kumbar.

It is expected to provide a fast route to the airport and will traverse densely populated residential, commercial and industrial areas.

There are 27 LRT stations along the alignment, with the maintenance depot located on the first island that is to be reclaimed on the island’s south coast.

The alignment also factors in interchanges with future LRT, Sky Cab and monorail lines that are being planned, including one that will cross the channel to connect Gelugor on the island with the Penang Sentral transport hub in mainland Butterworth. The success of the PTMP depends on funding from property development on the PSR scheme.

The Pan Island Link (PIL) 1 is another component which came to light recently as its Detailed EIA was on display at 10 locations in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur and Penang until yesterday.

The proposed 19.5km highway links Gurney Drive to the Penang International Airport.

SRS Consortium Sdn Bhd, the Project Delivery Partner (PDP), will call for the tender of the LRT and PSR via a Request for Proposal (RFP) exercise early next year, the sources said.

SRS’s role is to supervise the projects until their completion and scale down the cost.

It is learnt that there are currently six or seven companies interested in carrying out the LRT project and the reclamation work for the islands.

“SRS will scale down the cost of the urban rail transport link connecting Komtar and Bayan Lepas, and also consider alternative proposals such as a monorail,” said sources.

It is learnt that Scomi Engineering has recently proposed a monorail project costing about RM6bil, to the state government.

A China company has also proposed to build a LRT link costing less than RM6bil.

On the three man-made islands, it is said that more than RM4bil would be spent on the reclamation.

“The cost is estimated to be over RM4bil because there will be a need to construct a dam and three power plants for the islands.

“One of the islands will be used for indus­trial activities. There will be industrial lots developed for sale to overseas and local investors to generate funds for the urban rail transport link.

“The other two islands will be used for building commercial and residential properties,” sources explained, adding that about RM17bil, which includes the cost for the LRT and PIL 1, has been approved.

On the viability of trams as an alternative to LRT, the sources said the move would require relocating underground sewage infrastructure, power and telecommunications cables.

“They have to be relocated because laying the rails for trams involves a lot of costly road digging. The LRT is constructed on an elevated platform and does not involve digging into the ground.

“Furthermore, the roads in Penang are narrow, so using trams with other vehicles on the same road could cause accidents,” a source added.

SRS Consortium, a 60:20:20 joint venture involving Gamuda Bhd, Loh Phoy Yen Holdings Sdn Bhd and Ideal Property Development Sdn Bhd, was appointed by the Penang government as the PDP for the implementation of the PTMP.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said he has written a letter to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on June 29 to seek funds for the LRT project.

“We have yet to receive a reply.

“If the South island reclamation projects are not carried out, the state has no choice but to seek federal funds for the LRT,” he said during his speech at the state assembly yesterday.

Chow had earlier said the major components of PTMP would be fully funded by revenues generated from the sale of reclaimed land of the PSR project.

He said the fully funded nature of the components – the LRT and the PIL 1 – was unlike any other mega infrastructure projects currently being critically reviewed by the Council of Eminent Persons.

The SRS Consortium was concluded to have the best overall proposal among six local and international bidders, which were evaluated based on qualities such as transport master plan proposal, delivery track record, financial standing and funding/business models.

By David Tan The Star

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Implications of the ‘RM19bil GST collected, RM18bil taken’ and RM19.4bil shortfall !


The immediate concern is the budget deficit for 2018 spiking to 4% if the GST refunds are made this year

ON May 31, when Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced that the new government would be able to meet the budget deficit of 2.8% for this year, the sum of RM19.4bil that is to be refunded to companies since the goods and services tax (GST) was discontinued, never came into the equation.

Now, since that money is not in a trust account that was specifically set up to meet the refund obligations, does the government need to borrow more to ensure it meets the refunds? In doing so, would it incur a bigger budget deficit than had been envisaged?

There are wider implications on the shortfall of the RM19.4bil, assuming the refunds are to be done this year.

The biggest challenge for Lim is to cover the shortfall to maintain the budget deficit for 2018 at 2.8%.

The hallmark of the Pakatan Harapan government’s first 100 days of rule is to bring down the cost of living and cost of doing business. Towards this end, it has subsidised the price of petrol and diesel and removed the GST.

The cost of keeping up with the Bantuan Sara Hidup and subsidy for petrol and diesel is estimated to be about RM6.2bil between June and December.

Revenue loss due to discontinuing the GST from June 1 onwards is estimated at RM21bil.

The shortfall is made up of cutting down government expenditure by RM10bil, increasing dividends from government agencies such as Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Petroliam Nasional Bhd, a higher petroleum income tax of RM5.4bil and proceeds from the implementation of the sales and service tax from September onwards.

Nowhere was the RM19.4bil figure that is to be paid back to companies under the GST that was discontinued mentioned.

Lim has said that the money was supposed to be in the trust account, but is not there and has gone “missing”.

Former Finance Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Siregar Abdullah has said that all proceeds from the GST went into the consolidated fund of the federal government. The amount to be refunded is allocated to the trust account monthly based on the requirements of the Customs Department and the financial position of the government.

Customs director-general Datuk Seri Subromaniam Tholasy has revealed that since the GST was implemented on April 1, 2015, the total refunds amounted to RM82.9bil and the amount allocated to the trust account from the federal government consolidated fund was only RM63.5bil – representing a shortfall of RM19.4bil.

Generally, refunds for the GST are to be done within 14 days. But the amount allocated is less because not all refunds are paid within the two-week period.

At times, refunds are held back up to one year, pending investigations. Hence, the cash allocated to the trust account maintained by the Customs and the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) is less than the total amount due for refunds.

For instance, in 2017, the amount allocated to the IRB trust account for refunds was RM7bil when the total amount to be refunded was more than that.

In the case of the Customs, the outstanding refunds for 2017 was RM15bil, but the amount allocated was less.

Under the previous government, the GST provided a steady flow of cash every month. The thinking was that the money for refunds should be allocated when it comes due to best manage the cash-flow position of the government.

However, the view of Lim is that money meant for refunds should have been put into the trust account, irrespective of whether there is a need to pay immediately or otherwise.

Hence, the issue is not really the question of the RM19.4bil meant for refunds going “missing”.

It is whether the money is still in the consolidated accounts or whether it has been utilised. If it was utilised, did the government have the right to use it for other purposes in the name of cash-flow management?

The bigger implication for the Pakatan government is how it is going to cover this RM19.4bil shortfall.

One of the ways the government can cover the RM19.4bil hole without increasing the deficit is to cut more of the excesses.

On this score, the Pakatan government has so far handled public funds in a more judicious manner compared to the previous government. It has cut down the budget for inflated infrastructure projects and stopped unnecessary spending.

The light rail transit 3 and East Coast Rail Link projects are only some examples. It has stopped prestigious projects such as the KL-Singapore high-speed rail and the less glamorous mass rapid transit line 3 project. The government of today has earned full marks for being transparent and diligent in handling public finances.

Despite declaring that the federal government debt is at RM1.07 trillion, business sentiment is at a seven-year high, while consumer sentiment is at a 21-year high.

The stock market is looking good so far, much better than the likes of China and Hong Kong, although the improved sentiments are likely to be temporary.

As for the ringgit against the US dollar, its performance is better against many of the Asian and emerging-market currencies. The tumbling of the Turksih lira and Russian rouble is testimony that the ringgit is not that bad after all.

The government can probe, produce a White Paper or do anything else to look into the RM19.4bil shortfall, but the bottom line is that Lim and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will have to face the reality of making up for a RM19.4bil shortfall in government finances for this year.

Economists are predicting that the federal government budget deficit would be higher than the 2.8% estimated on May 31 this year on the assumptions are made this year. Some are looking at the budget deficit to be as high as 4%

Would there be an impact on Malaysia’s credit rating and the ringgit?

Yes, a spike in the budget deficit would have an impact for the short term.

However, the government of the day will score brownie points in its drive to bring about reforms and governance in the management of public funds. Rating agencies would appreciate any government that promotes transparency and improves on its finances purely by spending within its means.

So far, the government has done away with the GST and taken measures to put more cash into the hands of the people and business to improve domestic spending. The stabilisation of petrol prices and threemonth (June to September) tax-free period between the implementation of the GST and SST has put RM20bil into the hands of the people and businesses. This should help improve the domestic economy for a few months.

However, for the longer term, investors and rating agencies will be looking at how the RM19.4bil hole in the federal government finances will be covered. What are the government assets that will be sold?

Certainly, we are not looking at an expansionary budget come November this year.

Source:  The Alternative view by M.Sshanmugam The Star

RM19bil GST collected, RM18bil taken’

//players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5819661623001

KUALA LUMPUR: The previous government has not been able to refund companies their tax credit that came about following the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) because 93% of the money was not placed in the correct account, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng revealed.

He said some RM18bil of the RM19.4bil input tax credit under the GST system since 2015 was “robbed” by the previous administration.

“I was very shocked when informed that this happened because the previous government had failed to enter the GST collection in the trust account specifically meant for the repaying of GST claims.

“Instead, the Barisan Nasional government pilfered the trust account and entered cash GST collection directly into the consolidated fund as revenue to be spent freely,” he said when tabling the GST (Repeal) Bill 2018 during its second reading in Parliament yesterday.

He said that as of May 31, the outstanding GST refund stood at RM19.397bil whereas there was only a balance of RM1.486bil in the repayment fund.

Lim said from the total input tax credit, RM9.2bil or 47% was recorded between Jan 1 and May 31 this year, RM6.8bil or 35% in 2017, RM2.8bil (15%) in 2016, and RM600mil (3%) in 2015 (from April 1 to Dec 31, 2015).

Under GST, the input tax credit allowed businesses to reclaim credit for taxes paid on purchases, subject to filing of input tax documents.

In his winding-up reply, Lim said a comprehensive investigation would be carried out to determine the cause of the missing funds.

When debating the Bill, Lim also said he had asked for documents to show how the input tax had ended up in the consolidated fund.

“I asked the Chief Secretary to the Government for the Cabinet papers on the matter.

“However, he told me he could not remember anything of such,” he added.

Lim said former Bank Negara Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, when told of the missing funds, said it was imperative that the money was returned to the claimants as it was fiscally moral to do so.

Later, at the Parliament lobby, Lim said a former Treasury secretary-general may have been aware of the missing RM18bil.

The previous government, he said, had committed wrongdoing over the missing funds.

“I would assume the previous KSP (ketua setiausaha perbendaharaan/Treasury secretary-general) would have known about this.

“We want something definite because we want to look at the circle of decision-makers,” he said.

By martin carvalho, hemananthani sivanandam, rahimy rahim, and loshana k shagar The Star

Khairy urges gov’t to bring ‘GST robbers’ to book

BN MPs want Najib, RM18b GST ‘robbery’ claim investigated


Related 

GST refunds should be in trust account: ACCCIM – theSundaily

RM18b input tax credit under GST system robbed … – The Straits Times

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