Thursday, January 24th, 2019


US jobless claims hit lowest since 1969

WASHINGTON, Jan 23 — Claims for jobless benefits last week sank to the lowest level in nearly 50 years, signalling continued strength of the US labour market despite a slowing economy, according to data released today. The decline came despite a…

Malaysia’s CPI rises 0.2% in Dec 2018

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.2% to 121.1 in December 2018 compared with 120.9 in December 2017, driven by higher price for housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, which rose 2%.

Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr. Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the higher CPI was also due to higher price for restaurants and hotels (1.3%), alcoholic beverages and tobacco (1.1%), education (1.1%) as well as food and non-alcoholic beverages (0.7%).

“On a monthly basis, CPI increased 0.1% as compared with November 2018. CPI for the period of January-December 2018 registered an increase of 1.0% as compared with the same period last year,” he said in a statement today.

In terms of overall CPI, three states surpassed the national CPI rate of 0.2% recorded in December 2018. The three states are Kuala Lumpur (1.0%), Penang (0.6%) and Negeri Sembilan (0.4%); while Selangor and Putrajaya recorded the same rate as the national CPI.

Meanwhile, the higher increase in the index for food and non-alcoholic beverages was reflected in most states in Malaysia.

Data from the Department of Statistics revealed that three states recorded higher increases for food and non-alcoholic beverages index above the national index level (0.7%) in December 2018 compared with December 2017.

The index for food and non-alcoholic beverages rose 3.9% in Kuala Lumpur, followed by Penang (1.0%) and Negeri Sembilan (0.8%). Selangor and Putrajaya recorded the same rate as the national index level for food and non-alcoholic beverages.

US, China ‘miles and miles’ from resolving trade conflict, says US official

WASHINGTON, Jan 24 — Washington and Beijing are “miles and miles” from resolving their trade war, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said today. A high-level Chinese delegation is due in Washington next week as both sides work to reach a…

Miti arm ABDC to speed up automotive incentives approval process

KUALA LUMPUR: The Automotive Business Development Committee (ABDC) and the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) have agreed to work together to speed up the incentive approval process for carmakers.

Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming said ABDC will take about two days to process and make recommendations to the Finance Ministry (MoF) on the incentive applications by carmakers under the Industrial Linkage Programme (ILP), and about a week for customised incentives. This is subject to complete information being submitted and satisfactory evaluation.

Ong said the present process flow and client charter of ABDC will be strengthened and shared with the industry to ensure timeliness and transparency of the process in evaluating incentive applications.

“The International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) will enhance the client charter so that there will be greater transparency and understanding of the deliverables that Miti will have with MAA in terms of the time frame of processing these applications within the context of ABDC and continue the engagement with stake-holders in this process,“ Ong told a media conference today.

This comes after MAA raised the issue of slow incentive approval by ABDC that have affected its members’ plans to launch new car models.

Miti and MAA have agreed that the cost benefit analysis (CBA) for energy-efficient vehicle (EEV) customised incentives applications will be reviewed to ensure fair and equitable evaluation process.

Ong said the CBA for ILP is done by the Malaysia Automotive, Robotic and IOT Institute (MARiii), adding that MAA has raised the need to be more transparent with the details of CBA.

“MARiii sees that there are many areas in the CBA that need to be explained in greater detail and updated to take account of new conditions in the car manufacturing and automotive sector. MARiii will continue to have close consultation with industry players in regards to details of CBA. I will undertake to work with MARiii and the industry to ensure that whenever details are requested for, the details are transparent and clear to all. If there are details which may not be clear to industry players, it may delay the approval process within ABDC.

“As a process of refining and updating the CBA, we want to make it as clear as possible to industry players so that the ABDC process can be sped up and the issues raised by MAA in terms of the delays will be minimised moving forward,” Ong explained.

ABDC meetings will be held twice a month, compared with once a month previously, and dates of the meetings will be circulated to the industry to reduce turnaround time of application processing.

ABDC will also continue the practice of inviting original equipment manufacturers (OEM) to ABDC meetings to seek further clarifications if needed.

It was also agreed that Miti is to consider expanding the scope of ABDC to include indirect tax incentive applications. This will involve close consultation with MoF.

Ong said the revenue loss by MOF from reduction in excise duty to carmakers can be regained by the increase in volumes as car prices are lowered.

“It’s a win-win situation for everyone. MAA members, OEMs can sell more cars; consumers benefit from lower car prices and MOF collect more in excise duty as a whole because of increased volume. This is something that we want to work towards for all the car models,” said Ong.

MAA president Datuk Aishah Ahmad, who was present at the media conference, said stocks of vehicles have built up due to the incentive approval delays, citing some MAA members that have 12,000 units in their yard.

“It’s important for the approvals to come up during the time frame that has been agreed upon. Moving forward, I’m sure all these issues that we had previously will be erased,” said Aishah.

She said the association had a fruitful meeting two days ago with Miti and ABDC agencies. “We hope in the future, whenever we request for incentives, in order to get pricing approvals, it will be speeded up.”

ABDC, an agency under Miti, was established to facilitate collective decision making in determining the quantum of incentives to be extended to OEMs. Members comprise representatives from Miti, MoF, Malaysia Investment Development Authority, MARiii and Royal Malaysian Customs Department.

High Court dismisses MyEG’s judicial review application

PETALING JAYA: The Kuala Lumpur High Court has upheld the Malaysia Competition Commission’s (MyCC) decision against MYEG Services Bhd and MYEG Commerce Sdn Bhd (collectively referred to as MyEG) for abusing their dominant position.

In dismissing the judicial review application by MyEG, High Court Judge Datuk Azizah Nawawi agreed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s findings, which reaffirmed MyCC’s decision.

Earlier, MyCC said MyEG had abused its dominant position by imposing different conditions in equivalent transactions in the purchase of mandatory insurance for the renewal of the Visitor’s Pass (Temporary Employment) for foreign workers.

Consequently, MyEG was ordered to pay a penalty of RM307,200 and daily penalties from Oct 7, 2015 until Jan 22, 2019 amounting to RM9.03 million. At the same time, MyEG is still liable for a daily penalty of RM7,500 until it complies with the directives imposed by MyCC in its decision.

“This case is a testament to MyCC’s commitment, without fear or favour, to take stern action against abusive monopoly or dominant players in the market. We will continue to support the government in ensuring that the market is free from any harmful or wasteful monopoly,” MyCC CEO Iskandar Ismail said in a statement today.

Meanwhile, the company told Bursa Malaysia that it will be filing for a stay in the daily penalty and an appeal to the Court of Appeals immediately.

On Bursa Malaysia today, MyEG fell 1.96% or 2 sen to close at RM1 with 49.56 million shares traded, making it the fifth most active counter of the day.

Global economic growth weakening, Asia remains resilient, says IMF director

GEORGE TOWN, Jan 24 – Global economic growth projections are weakening with the World Economic Outlook (WEO) forecasts seeing a downward revision in 2019 and 2020. International Monetary Fund Asia and Pacific Department director Changyong Rhee…

Qatar possible partner for third national car project

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is looking at the possibility of having Qatar on board the third national car project.

In a statement, the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) said Minister Datuk Darell Leiking had a bilateral meeting with Qatar’s Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali Ahmed Al Kuwari and Qatar Investment Authority CEO Mansoor Ebrahim al-Mahmoud on Jan 22.

“The main objective of the meeting is to explore the possibility of having Qatar on board Malaysia’s third national car project. This is to leverage on Qatar’s investments in Volkswagen and Audi. Qatar positively welcomed the idea and reiterated on the need to deliberate the details of the joint manufacturing project,“ Miti said.

Darell highlighted that Qatar could look at the possibility of collaborating in Malaysia in other parts of the automotive sector such as investment in automotive components or producing electric cars. He also informed Qatar on the recent launching of the latest Proton model X70 and Perodua Aruz.

“Qatar took the opportunity to update Malaysia on its current investment reforms including the relaxation of foreign investment ownership, of which 100% foreign ownership is now allowed in Qatar in various sectors.”

Qatar expressed hope that more Malaysian companies to invest in Qatar. Qatar can be seen as a gateway to the Middle East market and Malaysia as a springboard to the Asean market. To this effect, the Second Malaysia-Qatar Joint Trade Committee Meeting is scheduled to be held on March 28-29 2019.

“Noting the good relationship between Malaysia and Qatar, the minister also expressed the possibility of proposing Qatar to be a dialogue partner in Asean,“ Miti said.

Syarikat Takaful Malaysia’s Q4 net profit soars

PETALING JAYA: Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Keluarga Bhd’s net profit for the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2018 soared 60.86% to RM90.57 million from RM56.30 million, attributable to the higher net Wakalah fee income arising from growth in the family and general takaful business.

Revenue for the quarter under review rose 35.49% to RM701.51 million from RM517.74 million.

For the full financial year, the group’s net profit grew 42.68% to a record high of RM294.92 million from RM206.70 million, while revenue increased 23.37% to RM2.64 billion from RM2.14 billion.

“The group’s return on equity crossed the 30% mark with an actual achievement of 32.7% compared with 26.7% for last year, in tandem with the record net profit achieved,” said Takaful Malaysia CEO Datuk Seri Mohamed Hassan Kamil.

He noted that the group sustained its market leading position in the family takaful business to register RM1.6 billion in gross contributions, particularly due to the increase in the credit-related portfolio on the back of the sturdy growth of the local Islamic banking industry that resulted in higher adoption for takaful products.

“Our general takaful arm is witnessing a quantum leap of 20%, outpacing the industry peers as well as our conventional insurance counterparts with total gross contributions of RM709 million, mainly derived from the growing acceptance of our fire and motor product lines, apart from our ongoing digital strategy and ‘Click for Cover’ online sales portal that continue to provide support for customer acquisition,” he added.

Takaful Malaysia said despite business sentiments remaining cautious in 2019, the takaful industry is expected to outperform the conventional insurers in view of the strong demand in the takaful products.

“Takaful Malaysia is poised to further expand its market share in 2019. To sustain its market leading position, the company will continue with its innovative strategies via the implementation of its digital strategy, introduction of online solutions, expansion of its distribution capabilities, strategic partnerships with leading Islamic banks and brand awareness initiatives,” its said of prospects.

The stock gained 2.05% to close at RM3.98 with 452,900 shares done.

Caring Pharmacy posts higher earnings in Q2

PETALING JAYA: Caring Pharmacy Group Bhd’s net profit rose 34.3% to RM5.74 million for the second quarter ended Nov 30, 2018, from RM4.27 million a year ago, on the back of higher revenue and gross profit margin.

Its revenue grew 12.84% to RM139.3 million from RM123.45 million, driven by the sales generated from the establishment of 10 new outlets since Sept 1, 2017 till Nov 30, 2018, as well as also higher sales from existing outlets.

During the quarter under review, Caring Pharmacy established one more complex outlet. As of Nov 30, 2018, its community pharmacies totaled to 119.

“The operating environment is expected to remain competitive. Nevertheless, with the group’s continuous effort in improving the marketing strategies, coupled with the few festive sales and year-end sales, the board of directors believes that the group will continue to achieve higher sales in the next quarter,” it said.

For the first half of the year, the group reported a net profit of RM9.82 million, 30.55% higher than the RM7.53 million reported a year ago.

Revenue for the period rose 13.48% RM282.24 million from RM248.7 million.

CIMB gets nod for Philippine investment banking venture

PETALING JAYA: CIMB Group Holdings Bhd has obtained the green light to establish its investment banking business in the Philippines.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the group said its wholly owned subsidiary CIMB Group Sdn Bhd had on Jan 23 received the relevant approvals from the Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines, including the Certificate of Incorporation and Certificate of Registration for an investment house licence.

The investment banking business in the Philippines will be operated via a 60% shareholding in CIMB Bancom Capital Corporation with the remaining 40% stake to be held by local partners Bancom II Consultants, Inc and PLP Group Holdings, Inc.

The three parties have entered into a joint venture agreement following the receipt of the approvals.

CIMB shares went down 1 sen or 0.2% to close at RM5.65 today on 13.4 million shares done.