Members of Economic Action Council (EAC)


The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) announced the establishing of the Economic Action Council (EAC), which will respond to and take action to address economic issues faced by the public, based on their feedback.

“The main objectives of the council are to stimulate economic growth, ensure fair distribution of wealth and improve the well-being of the people. The council will also focus on issues related to costs of living, labour, poverty and home ownership,” it said in a statement today.

Members of the council include Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as chairman, along with Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Ignatius Darell Leiking and the Prime Minister’s economic adviser Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid.

Other members of the council include former International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, Permodalan Nasional Bhd chairman Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz and Council of Eminent Persons member Prof Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram.

A list of corporate leaders are also members of the EAC, such as Public Bank Bhd managing director Tan Sri Tay Ah Lek, Majlis Amanah Rakyat chairman Dr Hasnita Hashim and Bursa Malaysia chairman Datuk Shireen Ann Zaharah Muhiudeen.

Asean Business Advisory council chairman Tan Sri Dr Mohd Munir Abdul Majid, Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (FOMCA) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Paul Selvaraj, lawyer Bah Tony @ Amani William Hunt Abdullah and MASA institute board of trustees member Nizam Mahshar are also in the EAC.  – The Edge

Council to drive economy forward

It will also look into issues related to cost of living, employment and home ownership

The Prime Minister and his key economic and finance ministers feature in a 16-strong committee that will form the Economic Action Council.

It will examine and decide on the economic and financial affairs and welfare of the people.

“The council was formed to respond and act on the feedback of the masses on the problems they face, particularly in the field of economy.

“The main aim of the council is to encourage and stimulate sustainable economic growth, equitable distribution of wealth and further enhance the well-being of the people.

“The council will also look into issues related to the cost of living, employment, poverty and home ownership,” said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday. (See graphic for list of members)

The move is timely and a positive step in the right direction, said Socio-Economic Research Centre executive director Lee Heng Guie.

He said the council was expected to draw up immediate and medium-term priorities to sustain the country’s economic growth and development.

“Among these include the measures to address cost of living as well as to ease the cost of doing business and compliance costs.

“Structural policies and reforms have to be stepped up, in particular in skilled manpower, public sector delivery and efficiency, exports capacity, develop innovative and creative industries and the digital economy,” Lee told The Star.

Echoing a similar stance, AmBank Group chief economist Anthony Dass said the council was similar to the one formed in 1998 during the Asian Financial Crisis.

“However, this time around, the council will focus on ways to address economic headwinds and how to drive the domestic economy amid the challenges,” he said.

The old NEAC (National Economic Action Council) was formed to navigate Malaysia out from the worst recession in a generation.

Dass added that the formation of the Economic Action Council was timely, considering the current challenges that had affected the macroeconomic conditions and the rakyat.

“The council’s composition is broad and well-mixed, a variety of experience and expertise and the council will have to find measures to stimulate the economy, continue economic expansion and ensure that the machineries of the government can work with the private sector to drive the economy,” he said.

The council, he added, must identify areas that could be areas of growth and also add to public revenue.

“It must also focus on the new key areas such as the digital economy and how can the government encourage the adoption of digitalisation across industries, particularly among SMEs.

“The working group under the council is also important, to ensure the success of the execution,” he said.

The main brickbat the composition of the council has drawn is the absence of younger faces.

“It is the same ministers and academics and where are the business people and entrepreneurs?” asked a political analyst.

Another source who declined to be named said younger people would have brought different perspectives to the council and offered an independent voice in the formation of ideas and policies.

He said such voices would probably be sourced from the working groups the Economic Action Council would have featured at the high-level main committee. – by jagdev singh sidhuganeshwaran kana

Related:

 

Kadir: Ministers may not be good enough, hence the EAC – Nation …

PM: Ministers not weak, but EAC a necessity

https://content.jwplatform.com/players/xLLp4bI5-dBiC3tzP.html

 

 

Azmin: EAC not due to Cabinet’s poor performance – Nation

 

 

Quick results expected from EAC – Letters

 

 

Wide-ranging issues for council to deal with – Nation

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/02/13/wideranging-issues-for-council-to-deal-with/

 

Experts urge council to excite people with proposals – Nation

Goldman Sachs staring at ‘significant penalties’, its system of accounting controls could be easily circumvented


Goldman Sachs (U.S. Financial Institution #1) – “knowingly and willfully conspired to circumvent and cause to be circumvented a system of international accounting controls at [Goldman Sachs], contrary to the FCPA [Foreign Corrupt Practices Act]

From left: Leissner, Ng and Low.

Goldman Sachs Group has acknowledged that it may receive “significant penalties” resulting from its deals with 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

It also recognised that it had weaknesses in its compliance controls, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

In its third-quarter earnings filing to regulators, the investment management firm made citations about the indictment against its former employees for bribery and money laundering involving 1MDB, WSJ said.

Although it had acknowledged that it could face “significant penalties resulting from 1MDB”, Goldman Sachs said it was also cooperating with investigators, the report on Monday said.

According to WSJ, Goldman Sachs wrote in the filing that the indictment alleged the firm’s “system of internal accounting controls could be easily circumvented and that the firm’s business culture, particularly in South-East Asia, at times prioritised consummation of deals ahead of the proper operation of its compliance functions”.

The filing also mentioned that former Goldman Sachs bankers Tim Leissner and Roger Ng had “circumvented the firm’s internal accounting controls in part by intentionally deceiving control personnel and internal committees”.

Goldman Sachs is said to have received nearly RM2.5bil (US$600mil) in fees from the 1MDB deal.

Previously, the Financial Times reported that Goldman Sachs had helped 1MDB sell about RM27bil (US$6.5bil) of bonds between 2012 and 2013, two years before the authorities raided 1MDB’s offices to investigate allegations of massive fraud.

In a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, Goldman Sachs estimated that possible losses related to litigation proceedings could run as high as US$1.8bil (RM7.49bil) above its total reserves for such matters.

Previously, Goldman Sachs estimated litigation losses to be in excess of US$1.5bil (RM6.24 bil).

The Financial Times also reported that almost 30 people from Goldman Sachs had reviewed 1MDB deal’s approval process.

Meanwhile, in a 2016 indictment, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) alleged that most of the money raised with Goldman Sachs’ help was siphoned off by Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low.

The fugitive businessman together with bankers Ng and Leissner were indicted by the DoJ on Thursday for conspiring to launder money and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in relation to 1MDB.

Leissner pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and to violating anti-bribery laws. He has been ordered to forfeit US$43.7mil (RM182.27mil) as a result of his crimes.

The criminal charges relating to 1MDB are the first by DoJ.

In 2016, the DOJ reportedly recovered over US$1bil (RM4.17bil being the current conversion rate) that was allegedly stolen, and sought the forfeiture of property, including a Bombardier private jet, Manhattan penthouse, Beverly Hills mansion and paintings by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet.

Low is currently wanted in Malaysia and Singa­pore and other countries over investigations into 1MDB.

In a separate report by the Associated Press, PKR incoming president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that Low would be given a fair trial.

Anwar said he was “quite pleased” with developments in the case so far and that investigations in the United States, Malaysia and Singapore and other places were “progressing very well”.

The report also said Anwar had hinted that more former officials could be tried on corruption charges.

Malaysia has applied for a Red Notice to seek assistance from countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, China and Hong Kong via Interpol, and Taiwan via diplomatic channels to arrest Low. – The Star

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Goldman Sachs CEO: I feel horrible ex-bankers broke law in 1MDB case

https://content.jwplatform.com/players/r3OlEq4I-d74adXtC.html

SINGAPORE (Reuters): Goldman Sachs chief executive officer David Solomon said on Wednesday he felt “horrible” that two former employees “blatantly broke the law” in their dealings with 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

US prosecutors filed criminal charges against the two former Goldman bankers and a Malaysian financier linked to the alleged theft of billions of dollars from the fund.

An investigation into where 1MDB’s money went became the largest carried out by the Department of Justice under its anti-kleptocracy programme, and the scandal was a major reason why Malaysian voters rejected Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, their prime minister for nearly a decade, in the May 9 general election.

“It is obviously very distressing to see two former Goldman Sachs employees went so blatantly around our policies and so blatantly broke the law,” Solomon said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in Singapore.

“I feel horrible about the fact that people who worked at Goldman Sachs, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a partner or it’s an entry level employee, would go around our policies and break the law,” Solomon said.

US prosecutors announced last week that Tim Leissner, former partner for Goldman Sachs in Asia, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and agreed to forfeit US$43.7mil (RM181.8mil).

Roger Ng, the other charged former Goldman banker, was arrested in Malaysia and is expected to be extradited.

Reuters was not immediately able to contact Ng’s lawyer on Wednesday. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment after US prosecutors unveiled the charges last Thursday.

Goldman has also placed its former co-head of Asia investment banking, Andrea Vella, on leave over his role in the firm’s involvement with the case, pending a review of allegations, according to a person familiar with the decision.

The Wall Street bank said in a securities filing on Friday that it may also face penalties from dealings with 1MDB.

Asked if he could provide assurances that neither he, former CEO Lloyd Blankfein or any of the senior management team suspected illegality or compliance breaches in dealings with 1MDB, Solomon said:

“We take compliance and control in our firm extremely seriously, we always have…We are going to continue to cooperate with the authorities and there’s a process in place and that process will proceed.” According to prosecutors, the investment bank generated about US$600mil (RM2.49bil) in fees for its work with 1MDB, which included three bond offerings in 2012 and 2013 that raised US$6.5bil (RM23.29bil). Leissner, Ng and others received large bonuses in connection with that revenue.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng told Reuters in June that the government will be looking at the possibility of seeking claims from Goldman Sachs.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia will look into why Goldman was paid around US$600mil in fees, an amount that critics say exceeds normal levels.

Goldman has maintained that the outsized fees related to the additional risks it took on after it bought the un-rated bonds while it sought investors and, in the case of the 2013 deal which raised US$2.7bil (RM11.24bil), 1MDB wanted the funds in a hurry for a planned investment.

The new Malaysian government has barred Najib and his wife from leaving the country, and the former premier faces multiple charges of corruption, money laundering and abuse of power, though he has consistently denied any wrongdoing related to 1MDB.

In another interview with Bloomberg on Tuesday, Malaysia’s prime minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim said it would be “inexcusable” if Goldman Sachs was complicit in the scandal. – Reuters

Guan Eng: Goldman Sachs should return RM2.4bil fees – Nation

American investment bank Goldman Sachs should return the US$588mil (RM2.4bil) in it was paid for 1MDB-related matters, says Lim Guan Eng.

The Finance Minister said the fees were for raising bonds totalling US$6.5 billion (RM23.29 billion) for the Malaysian state investment firm back in 2012 and 2013.

“They must pay us back this money, not only the US$588mil but much more than that,” he said during a briefing on Budget 2019 at Hotel Equatorial Penang on Wednesday (Nov 7).

He said there were consequential losses due to the fees paid as it had cost Malaysia big losses.

This was in respond to Goldman Sachs chief executive officer David Solomon, who admitted that their employees had broken the law over 1MDB matters.

Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/11/08/guan-eng-goldman-sachs-should-return-rm2_4bil-fees/#wqMtc2F6O1jC35UJ.99

 

Goldman Lunch at Taste Paradise Sets Table for 1MDB Money Probe

 

Goldman Sachs banker’s obscene commissions netted 11% from 1MDB believed to be most compelling evidence of rogue behaviour

 

Here is how 1MDB money was used to buy Equanimity

 

1MDB scandalous Bombardier Global 500 Jet parking fees of RM3.5mil to be paid if govt wants it back

Malaysia’s Budget 2019: Making the tiger roar again in 3 years?


The Pakatan Harapan government yesterday tabled its maiden budget that sought to restore Malaysia’s status as an “Asian Tiger” with a clean and transparent government that cares for the rakyat. (EPA/FANDY AZLAN)

KUALA LUMPUR: THE Pakatan Harapan government yesterday tabled its maiden budget that sought to restore Malaysia’s status as an “Asian Tiger” with a clean and transparent government that cares for the rakyat.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, in tabling the 2019 Budget in Parliament, said: “As long as we are clean, people-centric and focused on carrying out institutional reforms, we can restore Malaysia back to fiscal health in three years.

“Let our love for our country unite us, our challenges make us stronger and our confidence awaken Malaysia as an Asian Tiger all over again.”

Themed “A Resurgent Malaysia, A Dynamic Economy, A Prosperous Society”, the RM314.5 billion budget for next year has three areas of focus with 12 key strategies.

One focus area — to ensure the socio-economic well-being of Malaysians — will be the key performance indicator of the government’s success.

“We will seek to meet this objective by ensuring welfare and quality of life, improving employment and employability, enhancing wealth and social welfare protection, raising real disposal income and education for a better future,” he said.

In a speech that lasted more than two hours, interrupted by intermittent heckling from opposition lawmakers, Lim announced a slew of measures to address the people’s key concerns, from cost of living to housing, healthcare, education and transport.

Cash grants for the low-income Bottom 40 (B40) group will continue, single vehicle/motorbike owners with engine capacity of 1500cc and below will get targeted fuel subsidy, and the minimum wage will be raised to RM1,100 from Jan 1.

A National Health Protection Fund, with free coverage on four critical illnesses of up to RM8,000 and a hospitalisation benefit of RM50 a day, was also introduced for the B40 group.

For the affordable home programmes, Lim announced an allocation of RM1.5 billion while Bank Negara Malaysia will set up a RM1 billion fund to help those earning below RM2,300 a month to own houses costing below RM150,000.

The government will also allow the private sector to engage in new crowdfunding schemes for first-time housebuyers.

The Education Ministry received the lion’s share of the budget, with an allocation of RM60.2 billion, including RM2.9 billion assistance for the poor and RM652 million to upgrade and repair schools.

An amount of RM3.8 billion has been set aside for government scholarships.

All intra-city toll rate hikes will be frozen next year, said Lim, and public transport users, meanwhile, can buy RM100 monthly passes for unlimited trips on RapidKL rail or bus services beginning January.

A RM50 monthly pass is also available for those who use RapidKL buses only.

Civil servants and pensioners were not left out — staff up to Grade 54 will receive a one-off special payment of RM500; while government pensioners will get RM250.

The budget deficit for this year is likely to be 3.7 per cent, while gross domestic product (GDP) growth is forecast at 4.8 per cent and 4.9 per cent next year.

To ensure strong and dynamic economic growth, another focus area is to promote an entrepreneurial state that leverages innovation and creativity, while embracing the new digital economy.

The government aims to provide at least 30Mbps broadband connectivity outside urban centres within five years, while funds have been allocated to encourage investments in green technology and transition into Industry 4.0.

Corporate tax rate will be reduced to 17 per cent from 18 per cent for SMEs with paid capital below RM2.5 million, and businesses with annual taxable income below RM500,000.

Meanwhile, after inheriting “a worrying state of financial affairs which was in dire straits” with debts amounting to RM1.065 trillion from the previous administration, the third area of focus is to implement institutional reforms that promote transparent fiscal discipline.

“We intend to table a new Government Procurement Act next year to govern procurement processes to ensure transparency and competition, while punishing abuse of power, negligence and corruption,” Lim said.

He said open tenders will not only achieve more value-for-money for taxpayers, it will also nurture an efficient and competitive private sector.

To ensure that Malaysia has a clean government, the budget also saw the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission receiving an increased allocation of RM286.8 million.

Lim said the allocation, which is an 18.5 per cent increase from this year’s, will see MACC employing up to 100 more staff next year as the government revs up its anti-graft campaign.

Putrajaya expects to collect a revenue of RM261.8 billion next year, including a RM30 billion dividend from Petronas.

To raise its revenue, the government will leverage its assets and review taxation policies.

This includes reducing its stake in non-strategic companies, expanding the Service Tax to cover online services, and raising licence fees and taxes in the gaming sector.- By Nst Team

The following are the highlights of the 2019 Budget, which was tabled by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in Parliament on Friday. (Bernama photo)

The budget carries the theme of “Credible Malaysia, Dynamic Economy, Prosperous Rakyat” and will focus on three main thrusts with 12 key strategies to recapture Malaysia’s ‘Economic Tiger’ status.

The three main thrusts are:

*Institutional reforms

*People’s wellbeing

*Promotion of entrepreneurial culture

.The 12 strategies are:

*Strengthening fiscal management

*Restructuring and rationalising government debt

*Increase government revenue

*Ensuring welfare and quality life

*Increasing job opportunities and marketability

*Improving quality of healthcare services and social welfare protection

*Increasing disposable income

*Education for a better future

*Initiating new economic power

*Grabbing opportunity to face global challenge

*Redefining government’s role in business

*Ensuring economic fairness and sustainable economic growth

Related:

Govt vows to restore our finances – Nation

 

image: https://www.thestar.com.my/~/media/online/2018/11/03/03/17/budget-spread.ashx?la=en

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Wising up to a Billion Dollar Whale of a tale


 

Wising up to a whale of a tale

Once upon a time, Malaysians were enchanted with Jho Lows champagne lifestyle and proud that he had friends in high places. We now know better.

IF a poll was conducted to ask Malaysians to name their 10 most hated people, Low Taek Jho – also known as Jho Low – would surely be in the top five, if not three.

There has been a quick succession of books on the 1Malaysia Dev­elopment Bhd (1MDB) saga and in the one by two Wall Street Journal reporters, Billion Dollar Whale, Low is the central villainous character.

Yet for a brief shining moment, this man was the pride of his home state and the nation.

Then Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng was reported as saying that he was proud to note the accomplishments of overseas Pen­angites, including this particularly “well-connected” fellow.

That was back in July 2010 when a mysterious Malaysian man of means started hitting the headlines for partying with the likes of Paris Hilton, and counted actors Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio and singer Usher as his good friends.

When Hilton – the glamour party girl before the Kardashians overtook her – was detained by drug enforcement officers in Paris in 2010, she was reportedly travelling with “personalities close to power in Malay­sia”, Low being identified as one of them.

In just three months, his champagne-infused big spending ways – US$50,000 (RM206,800) or US$60,000 (RM248,190) a pop – set New York’s nightlife scene on fire and caught the attention of the US media. And that was how Low became famous.

Oh wait! He’s Malaysian, not some little emperor from Shanghai or Shen­zhen, so we puffed up with pride at the success of one of our own.

Somehow, the ability to party with the rich and famous became a yardstick for success. The assumption was that Low must have done something great to be so filthy rich and make such “friends”.

Low, then 28, became a subject of intense curiosity that Malaysian and foreign media wanted to know.

Then The Star landed an exclusive interview with him. The two hours with him provided enough fodder for stories spread over two days on July 29 and 30, 2010.

The interview covered topics like his Arab childhood friends and investors whom he said were the real big spenders, how he made his first million when he was just 20 and his expertise in setting up sovereign wealth funds.

Yes, we were pretty pleased with ourselves for beating the competition in getting Low to speak.

The interview was picked up by other newspapers and portals locally, regionally and internationally.

The Star took efforts to provide Low’s personal details like his age, birthplace, education and languages spoken.

What I also found amusing was that we also gave his height (1.7m) and his weight (88kg), which is not common for such interviews. That was probably our nice way of indicating how chubby he was.

The stories were positive pieces, painting Low as a successful role model. Of course, at that time, no one suspected that he was the mastermind behind the world’s biggest kleptocracy.

We were simply dazzled by his partying playboy high life and accepted in good faith all his claims on why he was successful: he went to the right schools, from Chung Ling to Wharton School of Business, made well-connected, influential friends (especially Arab royals) and got a great financial start.

As The Star reported: “At the age of 20, (he) started an investment company called The Wynton Group with US$25mil (RM103.4mil) from family and South-East Asian and Middle Eastern friends. The investment company in which he owns a stake is now worth in excess of US$1bil (RM4.1bil).”

Penang businessman Tan Sri Tan Kok Ping, a close family friend, described Low as a very bright person who respected his elders.

He was also “an active person, has a corporate brain and his public relations skills are equally good. He’s also quite a fast eater.

“I watched him grow up since he was a kid and I knew he was brilliant, but I never thought he would be so successful,” said Tan.

A reader who was so impressed by the Star exclusive blogged about his son having studied in Harrow in Bangkok and opined: “He (the son) is certainly no Jho Low, but I hope he can learn the positives from Jho’s life and work hard and be successful.”

Well, we now know better how Low operated and whose money he was spending on his celebrity friends and more.

From the man with the Midas touch, he has become the embarrassment no famous person wants to touch. I doubt Hilton or Usher takes his calls anymore. He is a fugitive on the lam, hunted by governments around the globe.

Much as he is furiously claiming innocence, he is indeed our billion-dollar whale. The whale is a metaphor in business, meaning to land large accounts that can transform a small company into a major player.

A whale can also mean a businessman who is close to a country’s regime, is protected by the state and receives government contracts and large bank loans without any collateral, as explained in the book, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty.

The maddening fact is this portly plunderer is hard to find. He apparently has multiple passports, including one from St Kitts and Nevis.

It’s very possible he is no longer 88kg. He could be thinner or fatter – depending on whether stress makes him eat even more and faster – or had plastic surgery, grown or lost his hair, but he should still be 1.7m tall, unless he wears hidden heels in his shoes.

Our government has said it is not sure where he’s hiding, but with Malaysians in just about every corner of the world, can we not somehow tap into this vast network? Even a whale must surface for air somehow, somewhere.

What really got my goat was what he glibly said in the Star interview: “Ultimately, I am Malaysian. I am one who does not forget my country and I think there is a lot we can do for Malaysia. But when you build the trust of investors, you need to deliver what you promised.

“For me, we all work very hard. Of course, we have a disadvantage where at our age, people may perceive it differently. At the end of the day, I handle investors’ money prudently. I generate returns for them.”

And this: “I am not an excessive person. Excessiveness with alcohol is just not me.”

No, not in alcohol but his name is now synonymous with excessiveness in luxury acquisitions.

Oh, where’s Capt Ahab when we need him?

Aunty wants to remind all of us that truly, all that glitters is not gold. Feedback to aunty@thestar.com.my

Credit:  June H. L Wong, So aunty, so what?

 

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Let me be clear, I am innocent: Jho Low


https://youtu.be/AngdNA3mtgw

Having his say: A screengrap of www.jho-low.com website which contained the letter

Rogue businessman insists he is not guilty via letter on personal website

 

PETALING JAYA – Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho has proclaimed his innocence over allegations related to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in a signed letter uploaded to his personal website.

Low, also known as Jho Low, admitted that in hindsight, he might have done things differently.

“But any mistakes I made do not amount to the sweepingly broad and destructive allegations being made against me.

“Let me be clear: I am innocent,” Low wrote.

The website, www.jho-low.com, also contains legal documents related to the 1MDB case, news media articles on him and 1MDB as well as statements by Low’s lawyers.

A notice on the website said that jho-low.com was created on behalf of Low through his legal counsel to provide information to the public.

A search on the Internet archive shows that the website has been updated since 2015 but until recently only contained general information on Low.

According to the WHOIS database, jho-low.com was created on June 2, 2014.

Yesterday, the link to the website was shared extensively on social media, after the undated letter was posted.

“I only ask that everyone – courts, prosecutors, and the general public – keep an open mind until all of the evidence comes to light,” Low wrote in the letter.

The financier wrote that for the past several years, he had been subjected to a series of allegations around the globe in relation to the operations of 1MDB.

He said many of the allegations had originated from blog posts, “improper” leaks from governmental agencies around the world, or unproven allegations filed in court, where he had never been afforded an opportunity to set the record straight.

“I have been paraded in effigy through the streets of Kuala Lumpur, and photographs from my younger days plastered in tabloids across the globe.

“It has become clear that there is no platform where objective information can be presented regarding this issue – and no jurisdiction that hasn’t been poisoned by gossip, innuendo, and unproven allegations.

“This website is an effort to change that,” Low wrote.

The 36-year-old Penangite is described as a “global philanthropist, investor and entrepreneur” on the website.

A check with an official from a public affairs firm representing Low confirmed the veracity of the website.

Meanwhile, Swiss whistleblower Xavier Justo, in an immediate response, said: “The Jho Low website does not show any proof of his innocence.

“It is just a bunch of legal documents showing that he wants a few cases to be dismissed.

“It’s the way the justice system works, you can be as guilty as guilty is and ask for a case to be dismissed. It’s not proof of innocence,” he told The Star.

The former PetroSaudi Inter­national executive said he was appalled at Low’s attempts to defend himself through the website.

“Any decent person will face justice (in court) if he can prove that he is innocent,” he said.

He added that he was amazed at Low’s attempts to try to “stop the distribution of books, abuse the justice system and hire public relations officers to defend his reputation while also creating a website to tell fairy tales”.

Low’s current whereabouts are unknown; he has been speculated to be hiding in China or the Caribbean.

He and his father, Tan Sri Low Hock Peng, were charged in absentia in Malaysia last month over money allegedly stolen from 1MDB.

Last week, Low, through the London-based law firm Schillings, sought to ban the books, The Sarawak Report by Clare Rewcastle Brown and Billion Dollar Whale by The Wall Street Journal’s Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, from going on sale.

Credit: Razak Ahmad The Star/Asia News Network

Read also

 

SST – for better or worse ?


What is Sales & Service Tax (SST) in Malaysia? – SST Malaysia

Today, the Sales and Service Tax (SST) makes a comeback on our tax radar screen to replace the three years and two months old Goods and Services Tax (GST), which was implemented on April 1, 2015.

The abolition of the GST and replaced with SST is an election promise of the Pakatan Harapan manifesto.

It has been claimed that the GST is a regressive broad-based consumption tax that has burdened the low- and middle-income households amid the rising cost of living. The multi-stage tax levied on supply chains also caused cascading cost and price effects on goods and services. That said, the Finance Minister has acknowledged that the GST is an efficient and transparent tax.

Following the implementation of the SST, the Government will come to terms that the budget spending will have to be rationalised and realigned with the lower revenue collection from the SST to keep the lower budget deficit target on track.

The expected revenue collection from SST is RM21bil compared to an average of RM42.7bil per year in 2016-17 from GST.

During the period 2010-2014, the revenue collection from the SST, averaging RM14.8bil per year (the largest amount collected on record was RM17.2bil in 2014), of which 64% was contributed by the sales tax rate of 10% while the balance 36% from the service tax of 6%.

Faced with the revenue shortfall, the Government expects cost-savings, plugging of leakages, weeding out of corruption as well as the containment of the costs of projects would help to balance the financing gap between revenue and spending.

The sales tax rate (0%, 10% and 5% as well as a specific rate for petroleum) and service tax of 6% is imposed on consumers who use certain prescribed services. The taxable threshold for SST is set at annual revenue of RM500,000, the same threshold as GST, with the exception for eateries and restaurants at RM1.5mil.

As SST is levied only at a single stage of the supply chain, that is at the manufacturers or importers level and NOT at wholesalers, retailers and final consumers, it has cut off the number of registered tax persons and establishments from 476,023 companies under GST as of 15 July to an estimated 100,405 under SST.

The smaller number of registered establishments means no more compliance cost to about 85% of traders.

The distributive traders (wholesalers and retailers) will be hassle-free from cash flow problems, as they are no longer required to submit GST output tax while waiting to claim back the GST input tax. During GST, many traders imputed refunds into their pricing because of the delay in GST refunds. This was partly blamed for the cascading cost pass-through and price increases onto consumers.

For SST, 38% of the goods and services in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) basket are taxable compared to 60% under the GST.

It is estimated that up to RM70bil will be freed up to allow consumers to spend more.


Expanded scope

The proposed service tax regime has a narrower base (43.5% of services is taxable) compared to the GST (64.8% of services is taxable).

Medical insurance for individuals, service charges from hotel, clubs and restaurants as well as household’s electricity usage between 300kWh and 600kWh are not taxable. However, the scope of the new SST has been expanded compared to the previous SST. Among them are gaming, domestic flights (excluding rural air services), IT services, insurance and takaful for individuals, more telecommunication services and preparation of food and beverage services as well as electricity supply (household usage above 600kWh).

For hospitality services, the proposed service tax lowered the registration threshold of general restaurants (not attached with hotel) from an annual revenue of RM3mil under old service tax regime to RM1.5mil, resulting in expanded coverage of more restaurants.

Private hospital services will be excluded under the new SST regime.

How does SST affect consumers?

Technically speaking, the revenue shortfall of RM23bil between SST and GST is a form of “income transfer” from the Government to households and businesses. This is equivalent to tax cuts to support consumer spending.


Will it lead to higher consumer prices?

The contentious issue is will the SST burden households more than that of the GST? It must be noted that the cost of living not only encompasses prices paid for goods and services but also housing, transportation, medical and other living expenses.

The degree of sales tax impact would depend on the cost and margin (mark-up) of businesses along the supply chain before reaching end-consumers.

The coverage and scope of tax imposed also matter.

As the price paid by consumers is embedded in the selling price, this gives rise to psychology effect that sales tax is somewhat better off than GST.

The good news to consumers is that 38% of the goods and services in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) basket are taxable compared to the 60% under the GST.

Technically speaking, monthly headline inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, is likely to show a flat growth or even declines in the months ahead.

It must be noted that consumers should compare prices before GST versus the three-month tax holiday (June-August).

Generally, consumers perceived that prices should either come down or remained unchanged as the sales tax is levied on manufacturers.

On average, some items (electrical appliances and big ticket items such as cars) would be costlier when compared to GST and some may come down (new items exempted from SST).

Nevertheless, we caution that consumers may experience some price increases, as prices generally did not come as much following the removal of GST in June.

There are concerns that prices may still go up in September when the new SST kicks in as irresponsible traders may take advantage to increase prices further.

Household consumption, which got a big boost during the three-month tax holiday in June-August, could see some normalisation in spending.

The smooth implementation of the new SST, accompanied by strict enforcement of price checks and the curbing of profiteering, especially for essentials goods and services consumed by B40 income households, are crucial to keep the level of general prices stable.

Strong consumer activism with the support of The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association and the Consumers Association Penang as well as the media must work together to help in price surveillance and protect consumers’ interest.

Credit to Lee Heng Guie – comment

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GST vs SST. Which is better?

 

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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