Sunday, June 24th, 2018

 

EU said to see nearing trade breakdown as it seeks rules revamp

BRUSSELS, June 24 — The global trade war is about to get worse, as the rules-based system of international commerce is poised to revert to an environment where the strong impose their will upon the weak, according to an internal memo circulated…


UK businesses ‘deeply concerned’ at slow pace of Brexit talks

LONDON, June 24 — The UK’s five main business lobby groups told Theresa May they’re “deeply concerned” that time is running out for a Brexit deal that protects hundreds of thousands of British jobs, ratcheting up pressure on the prime…


HRDF consolidated fund programmes suspended

PETALING JAYA: The embattled Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF) has suspended several strategic initiatives under its 30% consolidated fund to pave the way for a review, amid allegations of discrepancies.

Of the 1% levy HRDF collects from companies with more than 10 employees and 0.5% contributed by businesses with between five and nine employees, 70% is claimable for training purposes, while another 30% is held under a consolidated fund for common use regardless of contribution, for specific programmes.

The levy covers 63 sub-sectors in the services, manufacturing as well as mining and quarrying.

One programme in particular under the consolidated fund allocation, known as the Industrial Based Certification Programme (Inbase), has drawn more flak than others from stakeholders.

A HRDF circular dated June 12, sighted by SunBiz, showed that programmes such as the Outplacement Centre, Train and Replace, Graduate Enhancement Programme for Employability(Generate), Rural Accelerated Industrial Skill for Employment (Raise), Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Up-Skilling and Re-Skilling Programme, Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL) have been suspended.

The SBL-Khas Incentive to Support Large Employers with Insufficient Levy Balance, is maintained for the time being.

“The reason for the suspension of the (programmes under) consolidated fund, is to enable HRDF to review the policies, procedures and the implementation mechanism of the Consolidated Fund for improved effectiveness and transparency; benefiting all our stakeholders,” HRDF said. Allocations for the fund from the levy, however, continue.

Some RM712 million in levies has been collected, of which RM480.46 million has been disbursed. Total disbursement from the consolidated fund amounted to RM198.316 million as at end-2017.

Malaysian Training Providers Association (Matpro) president Dr Abdul Kabur Ibrahim told SunBiz that he suspects Inbase may have been allocated a larger portion from the consolidated fund, citing that funds for another popular programme, Raise, have dried up since March, whereas funds are still available for Inbase.

“HRDF should review the 30% pool fund allocations and ensure it is fairly allocated according to the needs of the industry and the contributors. The allocations under Inbase have to be reviewed and justified. Only those deserving associations should be given (the allocation). Allocations given to shady and newly registered association should be cancelled and distributed to other schemes such as Raise, digital skills and generate,” he said.

“Some schemes such as Harvard Managementor, [email protected] and Myfuture, should be withdrawn. More concentration should be given to programmes that serve the national agenda and the needs of the contributors,” he added.

Abdul Kabur called on HRDF to be more transparent by making information on successful bidders for training programmes and allocations allotted available on its website.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said training provided under Inbase may not be necessary for hitting the national agenda of having 35% skilled workforce by 2020 and employers' utilisation rate may not necessarily commensurate with the amount contributed.

Maintaining the MEF 's previous stance, he said employers have objected to the pool fund since its implementation, preferring for all levy contributions be available for use for training of their respective employees, stating that the current available funds are not sufficient.

The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry chairman of SMEs and human resource development committee Koong Lin Loong echoed Shamsuddin's sentiments.

“There is a mismatch between the course offered and required. There is also a mismatch between the funds. Some companies would like to send all of their staff but the fund is not sufficient, while some companies have been contributing but have not used the fund. There is a mismatch of this matrix, that's why 30% of the pool fund comes into the picture,” he added.

“There should be more engagements with relevant stakeholders in order to have a better mechanism to make use of this 30% pool fund or totally overhaul it,” he said.

Three of HRDF's board members and CEO Datuk CM Vignaesvaran Jeyandran have resigned since a town hall session with training providers was held in the presence of Human Resource Minister M. Kulasegaran.

HRDF is due to hold its AGM this week, where an announcement on the members of a governance oversight committee to assist the HRDF board is expected to be made.


Australia’s Lendlease says it’s committed to developing TRX Lifestyle Quarter

KUALA LUMPUR: Lendlease says it remains fully committed to transforming the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) Lifestyle Quarter into one of its largest urban regeneration developments globally.

The Australian developer and infrastructure firm has partnered with TRX City Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Finance Ministry, to develop TRX Lifestyle Quarter.
“This significant city project will provide thousands of new jobs, leading technology and the best international standards of design and sustainability contributing to the future of Kuala Lumpur.

“Lifestyle Quarter includes seamless connections to the new MRT network and adjoining public plazas. Leasing, design and construction all continue to make very positive progress,” Lendlease told Bernama.

The 6.88ha Lifestyle Quarter is a central part of the overall TRX financial district master plan and includes a lifestyle retail mall, restaurants, hospitality and leisure offerings, residential condominiums and a city park.

Lendlease said the project would be delivered through its integrated business model, which would be leveraged throughout the course of delivery.

“Lendlease has been delivering projects across a broad range of sectors in Malaysia for over three decades, and we remain committed to Malaysia and will continue to build on our presence here. We are open to exploring any good investment opportunities that may come our way,” it added.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced that the government decided to proceed with the TRX project and inject an additional funding of RM2.8 billion into the project, bringing the total funding by the government to RM6.5 billion.

Lim said the RM2.8 billion injection would create confidence among foreign investors who have invested in the project.

TRX City had sold parcels of land to local and foreign investors such as Mulia Property Development, HSBC, Affin Bank, Lembaga Tabung Haji, WCT, Lendlease and IJM.


China won’t target US companies in trade dispute, SCMP says

HONG KONG, June 24 — China has no plan to target US companies operating in the nation amid escalating trade tensions, as that would run counter to Beijing’s goal of attracting foreign investments, South China Morning Post reported today, citing…


Trump’s trade war sets bigger booby trap for strong US economy

WASHINGTON, June 24 — The escalating trade battle between the US and the rest of the world is raising the risk of a meaningful slowing in an otherwise vibrant American economy. While the tariffs already in place and set to be implemented will…


Apply for part-time, freelance jobs at a swipe with DuitDo-it

KUALA LUMPUR: Looking to earn extra income for Malaysians has just become easier with the launch of DuitDo-it.

Working like the dating app Tinder, job seekers can apply for part-time and contract or freelance work with just one swipe.

DuitDo-it is developed and owned by recruitment agency AP Symphony Search, as part of their CSR efforts to help Malaysians earn more while meeting the needs of employers nationwide who need part-time, contract or freelance staff desperately.

The agency said in a statement here today that with the big pool of Malaysians like unemployed youths, school leavers, students, retirees and stay-at-home mothers available, companies can now fill their temporary manpower gap easily. This should help reduce the country's high reliance on foreign labour which is causing a huge outflow of funds, it said.

DutiDo-it is free for job seekers. It may be downloaded from Google Play. Individuals can also post jobs such as looking after their cats or plants, or doing sewing.

Symphony said DuitDo-it also meets the workforce trend of freelancing. “More and more people are looking for non-nine-to-five jobs that allow them to have more flexibility and control over their time,” the agency added.

Work such as website design, accounts preparation and make-up artist can be found on DuitDo-it.

One of the unique features of DuitDo-it is the use of video resumes to allow for quick hiring.

Every job seeker will have his own individual rating to help employers make fast hiring decisions. If selected by the employer, the job seeker has three hours to accept, according to the statement. – Bernama


Bitcoin slips to 2018 low as rising scrutiny fuels scepticism

NEW YORK, June 24 — Bitcoin dropped to the lowest level this year as pressure mounts on the embryonic digital-currency sector, with global central bankers raising questions of viability and government regulators increasing scrutiny. The biggest…


Nor Shamsiah ‘right choice’ to head Bank Negara Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: Economists have lauded the appointment of Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus as the new Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor for the next five years, effective July 1, commending her as the right choice for the job.

Alliance Bank Malaysia chief economist Manokaran Mottain, who was with BNM from 1986 to 1996, described Nor Shamsiah as knowledgeable, strict, transparent and fair.

“She's a strict lady. I think she will be as good as Zeti (former governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz). Her credibility should not be questioned because she is well experienced in regulatory and supervision issues, the departments she has led in the past.

“Overall the central bank is on the right track. The person chosen is well suited for the post. She will be more transparent and we can expect right things from her. We're positive on her appointment and this can lift the financial performance (of the country),” Manokaran told SunBiz.

He added that Nor Shamsiah had spent her days in the rank and file of the central bank and was not an outsider.

Manokaran also opined that there could be changes in certain policies under the leadership of Nor Shamsiah but noted that the overall direction of monetary policy will remain.

Sunway University Business School Professor of Economics Dr Yeah Kim Leng said Nor Shamsiah will provide continuity in the central bank's leadership. “Given her central banking experience, she will likely continue the central bank's fine tradition led by her predecessors.”

On whether her leadership will bring changes in monetary policy, Yeah said that is decided by the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), taking into consideration prevailing conditions, both economic and financial, as well as current growth and inflationary outlook. Yeah is an external member of the MPC.

Nor Shamsiah was BNM deputy governor from 2010 until 2016 and recently served as assistant director of the monetary and capital markets division of the International Monetary Fund. She succeeds Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim after his resignation was accepted earlier this month.

Muhammad came under pressure over the central bank's controversial RM2 billion purchase of land from the previous government amid allegations that the proceeds from the deal were used to pay some of the debts of 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

As deputy governor, Nor Shamsiah was responsible for banking, insurance and takaful supervision, financial intelligence and enforcement, talent management, finance and shared services of the central bank.

Nor Shamsiah joined BNM in 1987 and served in various areas including prudential regulations, legislation, policies and guidelines for the financial sector and supervision. She was involved in the financial sector resolution initiatives during the Asian financial crisis, and played a key role in the formulation and implementation of the Financial Sector Masterplan (2001-2010) and Financial Sector Blueprint (2011-2020) that charts the development of the Malaysian financial system.

Nor Shamsiah graduated from the University of South Australia with a Bachelor of Arts degree in accountancy and is a Certified Practising Accountant.


China to unleash 700b yuan in reserves cut for some banks

BEIJING, June 24 — China’s central bank will cut the amount of cash some lenders must hold as reserves, unlocking about 700 billion yuan (RM432.2 billion) of liquidity, as it seeks to control leverage and support smaller companies. The required…