Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017

 

Trump government shutdown threat rattles markets

WASHINGTON, Aug 23 — President Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the US government to secure funding for a wall along the Mexican border rattled markets today and cast a shadow over coming efforts in Congress to agree to raise the country’s…


Harvard researchers say Exxon misled public on climate science

NEW YORK, Aug 23 —Two Harvard University researchers said in a study published today they had collected scientific data proving Exxon Mobil Corp made “explicit factual misrepresentations” in newspaper ads it purchased to convey its views on…


Govt to streamline acts, regulations on affordable housing

KUALA LUMPUR: The government aims to streamline the regulations and acts related to affordable housing in one-and-a-half year’s time, said National Housing Department deputy director-general Jayaselan K. Navaratnam.

“The idea to have a single entity was brought up three years ago. It is still in the pipeline but before we integrate an organisation, we believe that streamlining the regulations and the acts is more important. Because every agency, semi-government and states, they have their own policies. We have to see the balancing of requirements,” he told reporters at the sidelines of Khazanah Research Institute’s (KRI) public talk yesterday.

He said, at present, there are many acts for land, strata and housing while every state has its own regulations, and the government is studying all these now.

Jayaselan said having an integrated act and regulations means communicating with each other and working hand-in-hand but, at the moment, the various departments involved are working in silos, without understanding the challenges or issues faced by other departments.

“We have to work together. We have to facilitate for the future, make it easy. We are hoping to finish it up in one-and-a-half years,” he added.

On private developers asking to waive utility charges, Jayaselan said the government is also studying the charges imposed by the utility companies.

“At the beginning, what we were looking at was only the charges but actually what the developers are saying is that they are asked to do things. For example, if the main pipeline to a development is 37km, the developer has to build the 37km of pipes which will definitely be transferred to the purchaser because the developer won’t absorb the cost.

“There are two things here: the charges and the cost of construction. The issue here is not about the charges, it is about the cost of construction,” he said.

Jayaselan said these issues are being analysed and segmentised before any concrete statements are made by the government on where the problem is and what it will do to solve the issues.

“We cannot jump to a conclusion at this moment. Let us work with KRI, we will come up with the real issues and then we will highlight to the government and let the government make the call,” he added.


Govt to streamline laws, regulations on affordable housing

KUALA LUMPUR: The government aims to streamline the regulations and acts related to affordable housing in one-and-a-half year’s time, said National Housing Department deputy director-general Jayaselan K. Navaratnam.

“The idea to have a single entity was brought up three years ago. It is still in the pipeline but before we integrate an organisation, we believe that streamlining the regulations and the acts is more important. Because every agency, semi-government and states, they have their own policies. We have to see the balancing of requirements,” he told reporters at the sidelines of Khazanah Research Institute’s (KRI) public talk yesterday.

He said, at present, there are many acts for land, strata and housing while every state has its own regulations, and the government is studying all these now.

Jayaselan said having an integrated act and regulations means communicating with each other and working hand-in-hand but, at the moment, the various departments involved are working in silos, without understanding the challenges or issues faced by other departments.

“We have to work together. We have to facilitate for the future, make it easy. We are hoping to finish it up in one-and-a-half years,” he added.

On private developers asking to waive utility charges, Jayaselan said the government is also studying the charges imposed by the utility companies.

“At the beginning, what we were looking at was only the charges but actually what the developers are saying is that they are asked to do things. For example, if the main pipeline to a development is 37km, the developer has to build the 37km of pipes which will definitely be transferred to the purchaser because the developer won’t absorb the cost.

“There are two things here: the charges and the cost of construction. The issue here is not about the charges, it is about the cost of construction,” he said.

Jayaselan said these issues are being analysed and segmentised before any concrete statements are made by the government on where the problem is and what it will do to solve the issues.

“We cannot jump to a conclusion at this moment. Let us work with KRI, we will come up with the real issues and then we will highlight to the government and let the government make the call,” he added.


TH Heavy Engineering Q2 net loss widens on slower fabrication business, unrealised forex loss

PETALING JAYA: Practice Note 17 TH Heavy Engineering Bhd (THHE) saw its net loss widen to RM16.8 million in the second quarter ended June 30, 2017 on lower fabrication activities and unrealised foreign exchange loss of RM1.4 million.

This came on a more than two-thirds fall in revenue to RM2.4 million for the quarter under review, compared with RM7.7 million for the same quarter in 2016. The group made a net loss of RM6.8 million in Q2 of 2016.

The group, which is trying to regularise its financial condition through a scheme of arrangement with its creditors that is yet to be revealed, is cautiously optimistic of its business prospects.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the group said it expects the fabrication business to remain challenging in view of the present competitive environment and capital expenditure cut by major oil companies.

THHE, however, has ventured into shipbuilding, with plans to expand into refurbishment and maintenance works and non-oil and gas-related fabrication works, which are expected to provide more stable and recurring income.

As at June 30, 2017, the group, via THHE Destini Sdn Bhd, a joint-venture company between THHE Fabricators Sdn Bhd and Destini Shipbuilding and Engineering Sdn Bhd, has an order book for supply, delivery, testing and commissioning of three offshore patrol vessels for Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency of RM738.9 million.

Net loss for the six months ended June 30, 2017, however, narrowed slightly to RM38 million for the period, compared with a net loss of RM40.3 million for the same period in 2016. This was on a 79% fall in revenue to RM4.6 million for the six month period, compared with RM22.2 million for the same period in 2016.

The stock closed unchanged at 5 sen, with 535,000 shares traded. It has a market capitalisation of RM56.1 million.


US new home sales fall to seven-month low

WASHINGTON, Aug 23 — New US single-family home sales unexpectedly fell in July, dropping to their lowest level in seven months, which could raise concerns of a slowdown in the housing market recovery. The Commerce Department said today new…


Germany brings home gold reserves ahead of schedule

FRANKFURT, Aug 22 — Germany’s central bank has brought much of its gold reserve back to Frankfurt, the Bundesbank said today, restoring a bulwark of economic stability the country had stashed away at the height of the Cold War. Guarded well…


Cheap oil undercuts US rail, bus service, says study

DETROIT, Aug 23 — Cheap gasoline is squeezing US bus companies and the Amtrak passenger rail system that bet more consumers would embrace alternatives to driving for trips shorter than 400 miles (643 kilometres), a study by researchers at DePaul…


Back to square one for RHB, AMMB

PETALING JAYA: With the merger of AMMB Holdings Bhd and RHB Bank Bhd called off, it is now business as usual for both banks that now must strive to improve on their return on equity (ROEs), which are expected to trend below 10% in the near-term, said MaybankIB Research.

“Mergers are proving quite difficult, from the looks of it, with this being the second time in recent years that a proposed merger has been called off; the previous one being the proposed CIMB-RHB-MBSB merger back in 2014.

“We would have been neutral to slightly positive on the RHB-AMMB merger but now that it has been called off, it is back to square one and the focus will be on the operational and financial performance of both banks as they announce their results over the next couple of days,” MaybankIB said.

It maintained its “hold” call on both banks with unchanged target prices of RM5.25 for AMMB and RM5.45 for RHB.

AllianceDBS Research said without the merger, it is back to eight anchor banking groups with RHB ranking fourth by total assets and AMMB, sixth.

“We believe both banks will shift their focus back on their strategic plans, which have been outlined for the year/financial year.”

It gave a “hold” call for RHB with a target price of RM4.90, adding that RHB may still be saddled with some unfinished non-performing loan issues pertaining to the oil and gas sector, which may take a toll on earnings.

For AMMB, it gave a “hold” call with a target price of RM5.40, explaining that green shoots have emerged from strategic initiatives put in place since FY16; while FY17 earnings were testimony of deliveries.

AMMB shares fell 11 sen to close at RM4.59 today, while RHB shares rose 19 sen to RM5.07.


ACCCIM: 43% of SMEs say financing still an issue

KUALA LUMPUR: The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACCCIM)’s SME Survey Report 2017 found that 43% of 808 small and medium enterprise (SMEs) surveyed highlighted that obtaining financing is still an issue.

Of this 62% said it had resorted to commercial banking as a sourcing platform despite the rise of alternative financing. The survey was conducted between April 28 and June 30.

Also noted, was the lack of awareness of financing schemes such as KOJADI SME Loan Scheme, Bank Negara Funds for Small and Medium Industries 2 (FSMI2), SME Corp Business Accelerator Programme, MIDF Soft Loan Scheme for SME and SME Bank Financing Program for SME among respondents, as some 27% claimed to not be aware of these schemes.

ACCCIM chairman of SMEs and human resource development committee Koong Lin Loong said many SMEs interested in listing on the newly launched Leading Entrepreneur Accelerator Platform, still lack information on it. Koong also sits on the board of directors of SME Corp.

The survey also found that respondents are yet to understand the Employment Insurance System (EIS), which has been put on hold by the government.

On another note, the survey also found that 74% of the respondents are not registered with the human resource development fund as stipulated in the PSMB Act 2001, which says that employers with more than 10 employees in the service sector are required to register.

The act also stipulates that employers with more than 50 employees in the manufacturing sector are required to register with the fund whereas those with less than the number but more than 10 can opt to register.

Koong also said employers who are contributing on the other hand are not tapping into their levy contributions, which can be utilised for employees training.

“The ones who are registered, they contribute because they are obliged to contribute. After contributing they do not know how to use it, nobody advised them how to go about it ,” he added.

About 50% of the respondents said that they have not sent their staff for training programmes provided by the agency as they “do not have related information on training programmes”.

“(Employers are) not sending their staff for training because the training content is not what they want. They are rolling out a lot of management programmes, which the industry doesn’t want. It wants more technical programmes,” Koong said.