Tuesday, April 10th, 2018


Canada cabinet to discuss troubled Kinder Morgan pipeline

OTTAWA, April 10 — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet today with his cabinet ministers to discuss Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd’s threat to walk away from a troubled pipeline expansion as various levels of government signal interest in…

Destini, Felcra in joint venture to provide MRO services

PETALING JAYA: Destini Bhd and Felcra Bhd today inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to provide, among others, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for industrial facilities and equipment for the agriculture and related industries within Malaysia and the Asean region.

Destini said the MoU will serve as a platform for Destini Engineering Technologies Sdn Bhd (DETSB) to provide MRO services in the plantation industry, which is in line with its strategic direction of diversification of its recurring revenue within Destini’s core business of MRO services.

The MoU signed by Destini’s wholly owned subsidiary, DESTB and Felcra’s wholly owned subsidiary, Felcra Processing & Engineering Sdn Bhd, will see a joint-venture company (JVco) set up within three months from the MoU’s date.

The JVco will provide MRO services to Felcra’s oil palm factories, commercial and residential properties. It will be a “under one roof” service concept covering mechanical and electrical, electronics and civil works.

Both parties have also agreed to provide training for the services provided by Destini to Felcra College students and/or participants and to offer employment opportunities to them.

Destini’s president and CEO Datuk Rozabil Abdul Rahman said: “The group’s partnership with Felcra will enable Destini to adopt the MRO best practices that we have developed within the aviation, marine, land systems and O&G industries to the agriculture industry. We believe this transfer of technology will enhance further the productivity of Felcra and Malaysia’s agriculture industry as a whole.”

Felcra CEO Datuk Zukarnain Md Eusope said that with the collaboration, Felcra is able to tap on Destini’s expertise and experience in MRO.

On Bursa Malaysia today, Destini was up 3 sen to close at 44.5 sen on volume of 1.53 million shares.

Russia plays down stability risk from US sanctions

MOSCOW, April 10 — Russia’s central bank today sought to reassure the public after new US sanctions prompted a market collapse and plunge in the rouble’s value, insisting there was no threat to financial stability and that the bank was ready…

Oil hits US$70 as China offers soothing words on trade

LONDON, April 10 — Oil hit US$70 a barrel today, in its biggest two-day rally in nearly a month, as investors grew more confident that a brewing trade dispute between the United States and China may be resolved without causing harm to the global…

Earning just enough to make ends meet

PETALING JAYA: A study done by the Malaysian Financial Planning Council, in which the majority of respondents were from the B40 group earning less than RM3,000 a month and between 20 and 39 years old, found that almost half of the respondents had enough money to cover only basic needs, while 81% either did not save, or saved less than 10% of their monthly income.

The study, commissioned by Capital Market Development Fund to investigate Malaysians’ financial capability, was conducted from April to August 2017. It involved 2,000 respondents, of which 57% were in the B40 category, with monthly income of less than RM3,000.

Of the respondents, 55.3% were married; 54% were female; 64% were of Malay ethnicity; and 56.4% were young adults between 20 and 39 years old.

The study was separated into four target categories namely public sector employees; SME/private sector employees/general public; Felda/rural area residents and youth in institutions of higher learning.

The survey revealed that almost half of the respondents (47.2%) had enough money to cover only their basic needs, which could be due to the higher percentage of respondents earning less than RM3,000 monthly.

It also found that vehicle hire purchase comprised the highest percentage of respondents’ debt (36.2%), followed by education (33%), housing mortgage (29%), personal loans (26.3%) and credit cards (19.6%).

“With the emergence of zero down payments and a reduction of sale prices, it is significant that this has encouraged Malaysians to incur debt in car purchase, having the misconception that one can afford the monthly repayments,” the report said.

Furthermore, the survey found that majority (52.5%) of the respondents had a very low asset-to-debt ratio and 81.3% of them either did not save or saved less than 10% of their monthly income. In terms of the proportion of monthly income that goes into savings, 55.3% saved less than 10% of their monthly income while about 26% did not save at all.

“This is indeed worrying as respondents seem not to feel the need to save nor have the ability to save,” it added.

It is worth noting that only 36.9% of the respondents owned their homes or had family-owned homes, while the rest lived in rented accommodation.

Meanwhile, 44.3% of respondents admitted to have little knowledge of the time value of money, an important component of financial planning, inflation and had a highly inadequate understanding of risks and investments.

This explained the findings, where over 80% of the respondents believed that expenses can sometimes be higher than income and that they could depend on their Employees Provident Fund savings after retirement.

The majority of them also believed that the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency, which provides counselling and financial advisory services, offers loans: and only 25% of the respondents were aware that not all investment schemes here are legal.

The report proposed that financial education should be made mandatory. It also recommended that the Securities Commission aggressively interact with the public to educate them on real investments and scams.

Food industry on MyCC’s menu this year

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) will look into escalating food prices this year as Malaysians grapple with rising cost of living.

“We’ll identify the most critical sub-sectors for us to address the cost of living,” MyCC member Dr Saadiah Mohamad told a press conference today after the launch of market review reports on the pharmaceutical and building materials industries.

This will be MyCC’s latest effort to determine anti-competitive behaviour following the completion of its market review study on the pharmaceutical and building materials sectors, which found that there was no conclusive evidence of anti-competitive behaviour by the industry players.

MyCC is also expected to conduct market review study on the transport and services industries by 2020.

MyCC director of enforcement Iskandar Ismail said competition in the building materials industry is mainly shaped by a few characteristics, namely no threat of product substitution, minor differentiation in products, territorial-based operations, vertical integration as a common business strategy and limited entry of new players in the upsteam manufacturing industry.

On recommendations, he said the market needs to assess regularly the steel industry in China; explore incentives and measures that will encourage the steel players to improve efficiency and competitiveness; monitor cement price when the demand is high; and promote the usage of local building materials.

Meanwhile, MyCC head of business & economic division Junaidah Mohd Shazili is urging the strengthening of the local pharmaceutical industry with more exports in a bid to reduce medicine prices to more reasonable levels.

In 2006, RM2.3 billion of pharmaceutical products were imported, accounting for 68% of pharmaceutical sales.

Given the various studies that have shown Malaysian drug prices are high by international standards and significant price variations exist between providers, MyCC opined that there is a need for a coherent price policy that should be part of the National Medicines Policy.

In addition, MyCC can play a vital role in coordinating with other relevant agencies to address issues that interface between competition law, intellectual property law and health regulations.

Currently 14 cases are under probe by MyCC involving various industries including pharmaceutical, services and financial products.

US stocks add to gains on easing trade fears, Dow +2.0pc

NEW YORK, April 10 — Wall Street stocks added to gains early today following a conciliatory speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping that reassured investors a trade war with the United States could be avoided. About one hour into trading, the…

Xi pledges to further open China’s economy

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged today to lower car tariffs this year and take other steps to open the world’s number two economy “wider and wider”, addressing major complaints by the United States in a simmering trade row.

Xi’s remarks follow weeks of tit-for-tat tariffs between Beijing and Washington and mutual threats of more levies on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of products that have raised fears of a trade war that could lacerate the global economy.

While he did not directly mention US President Donald Trump’s demands, Xi told an economic forum on the southern island of Hainan that Beijing “does not seek a trade surplus” and hopes to increase imports.

Promising a “new phase of opening up”, he said China will “considerably lower” tariffs on cars and other products this year, take measures to liberalise automobile investment, and protect intellectual property – all areas that have been high on the list of demands by Washington.

“Economic globalisation is an irreversible trend of the time,” Xi told the Boao Forum for Asia. “The door of China’s opening up will not close, it will only open wider and wider.”

But he gave no details or an exact date for taking the measures.

The car tariffs were the target of a Trump tweet on Monday.

“When a car is sent to the United States from China, there is a tariff to be paid of 2½%. When a car is sent to China from the United States, there is a tariff to be paid of 25%,” Trump tweeted.

“Does that sound like free or fair trade. No, it sounds like STUPID TRADE – going on for years!”

Asian markets – hammered along with global equities by the trade row in recent weeks – rallied on Xi's speech.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, congratulated the Chinese leader on his commitment to openness in a speech to the forum.

The measures he laid out such as “removing caps, reducing barriers” were “very specific”, she told the forum. – AFP

China files complaint with WTO over US steel, aluminium tariffs

BEIJING: China has asked the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to mediate in its dispute with the United States over tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, which Beijing says contradict WTO agreements.

According to a statement today from the WTO, China has said the duties of 25% on imports of steel products and 10% on those of aluminium are inconsistent with provisions of the organisation's General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 and of the Agreement on Safeguards. China has requested WTO dispute consultations with the US, which give both parties a chance to resolve the dispute without resorting to litigation, according to the WTO.

The US implemented the tariffs last month, launching the first in a series of retaliatory trade measures that have prompted fears of an all-out trade war between the world's two largest economies. – dpa

Luno Malaysia started processing withdrawals on March 29

KUALA LUMPUR: Luno Malaysia, which has had transactions for its Malayan Banking Bhd account suspended since last year, started processing withdrawals on March 29.

Currently, pending withdrawals are being processed in batches, while Luno continues to work on a long-term solution to process both ringgit withdrawals and deposits in Malaysia. Deposits are still not possible.

“Enabling Malaysian customers to have access to their funds is our main priority,” said David Low, country manager for Luno Malaysia, said in a statement today.

“We are also testing other solutions for processing both deposits and withdrawals, which will allow us to resume full services in Malaysia. Malaysia, and more broadly Southeast Asia, is critical to our mission to bring digital currencies to everyone, everywhere.”

Luno also announced that it has formally registered with Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) as a reporting institution as required by the policy document, Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) – Digital Currencies (Sector 6).

The policy document sets out the minimum requirements and standards that a reporting institution must observe – to increase the transparency of activities relating to digital currencies and ensure effective and robust AML/CFT control measures are put in place.

“We view any steps toward regulation of digital currencies as a very positive sign,” said Vijay Ayyar, head of countries for Luno. “We will continue engaging with various government agencies to ensure that the industry is well understood and that risks are mitigated. We have been working closely with BNM over the past year and similarly with many other regulators globally”.

In a separate status update on Luno’s operations, the digital currency exchanger said it will reactivate withdrawal functionality on April 23, allowing customers to submit new withdrawal requests. All new requests will be processed on May 2.

It said all withdrawals will be processed in batches, with high-value transactions processed first, followed by all other withdrawals. As these transactions will be processed manually, they will take time to process and there will be a small administrative fee charged by Maybank.

Luno allows the trading of the two largest digital currencies – bitcoin and ethereum – on its platform.

Year to date, bitcoin’s price has fallen almost 50% to US$6,757 (RM26,100), while ethereum’s price is down almost 48% at US$398.42.