Sunday, March 17th, 2019


Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank go public on merger talks

FRANKFURT, March 17 — Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank confirmed today they were in talks about a merger, although both warned that a deal was far from certain and analysts questioned the merits of a combination. Germany’s two largest banks issued…

Setting expenditure targets a good start in coping with cost of living, say experts

PETALING JAYA: The “BelanjawanKu: Expenditure Guide for Malaysians” unveiled by the government recently has drawn flak from certain quarters as the suggested expenditures appear to be unrealistic in view of high cost of living in urban areas.

However, everyone has a role to play when it comes to improving our socio-economic well-being, attaining more equitable distribution of income and closing the wealth gaps. While the government rightly has a crucial role to play, it cannot do this alone.

It is important for the people to understand their rights and responsibilities to have a full life in society.

Wealth Vantage Advisory Sdn Bhd director Felix Neoh when contacted by SunBiz, recommended the people to be responsible for their own financial well-being rather than to be fully dependent on the government.

“It’s a cost of living versus wage growth level issue that has been on the government’s radar for some time. It’s not easy as there are a lot of issues to deal with.

“We need to look for ways to increase our individual income and savings as well as to optimise our expenses in order to grow our net worth more successfully despite these challenging times,” he said.

Based on the expenditure guide unveiled by the government, a single Malaysian who uses a public transport, needs to be paid at least RM1,870 a month to live a reasonably comfortable lifestyle in the Klang Valley.

For an unmarried person who owns transport, the required income is RM2,240 per month. The estimation takes into account the minimum monthly expenditures on various baskets of goods and services such as basic needs, social participation and discretionary expenses.

Apparently, the figures are notably higher than the minimum wage, which was raised by a further RM50 to RM1,100 last year, but is still lower than the median wage of RM2,580 in Selangor or RM2,650 in Kuala Lumpur.

The Financial Planning Association of Malaysia (FPAM) CEO, Linnet Lee, said on average, the entry level salary in Kuala Lumpur for a fresh graduate is about RM1,800 to RM2,500 a month, while those in specialised industries are being paid about RM2,500.

She pointed out that while the current minimum wage is to elevate those who earn and have been surviving on less than a RM1,000 per month, the budget guide outlines the absolute minimum required when push comes to shove.

“Also with reference to the broad categorisation of different income levels, the above guide would be give a perspective of a regular person with no major health or financial issues,” she added.

Undoubtedly, married couples need more to maintain acceptable living standards, with the minimum expenditure required increasing to RM4,420, assuming that they rent or own a house.

Having just one child raises the required expenditure by nearly 30% to RM5,730, whereas having two children raises the expenditure to RM6,620, almost 50% higher than for couples without children.

Despite that, the budget estimates for families with children remain below the median household income reported in 2016, where Selangor’s urban household median income was reported to be RM7,443 and Kuala Lumpur’s household median income at RM7,620.

Senior couples were found to spend less at RM3,090 a month as they pay smaller amount for most of the items in the expenditure basket, with the exception of healthcare, and are also less likely to save.

Asked whether the guide is practicable and realistic in helping the people manage their expenses, Neoh said, “A fresh graduate in Klang Valley might receive an average starting salary well above the national minimum wage, hence the concern about the budget guide being realistic or otherwise might not be so much of a concern, depending on your situation and location.”

“The budget guide gives some broad references on what the average Malaysian spends on each individual expense item so that the reader is aware whether he/she is spending around the average, above or below the average.

“If the budget guide is higher than one’s actual expense, then you know that you’re probably doing okay. However, if the guide is lower than your actual situation, then it might help you aspire to do better,” he added.

Meanwhile, Lee reckoned that the budget guide is useful for those who want to start actively managing their personal finances but do not know where to begin.

“It is a great reference point to look at what makes up a budget and start plugging in their own expenses and income. One outcome I would like to see from this guide would be more awareness of Malaysians on what they are spending on and to ask themselves the tough questions on whether those are needs or wants. This will then guide and empower them on what is the next action to take,” she added.

The expenditure guide, which was developed based on actual spending patterns of urban households in the Klang Valley, was commissioned by the Employees Provident Fund, while the research was done by the Social Wellbeing Research Centre of Universiti Malaya.

Downward drag on manufacturing sector expected to persist

PETALING JAYA: The downward pressure on the local manufacturing sector is expected to remain high going forward, dragged by the electrical and electronic (E&E) segment due to the softening of global semiconductor sales, according to AmBank Research.

Malaysian trade is envisaged to ease on the back of a moderate export outlook, in tandem with a slower global growth, the research firm said in a report last Friday.

Thus, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) for 2019 is forecast to grow around 4.5% with downside risk at 4.0% in view of ongoing external noises and domestic challenges.

The industrial production rose slightly slower in January by 3.2% year-on-year (y-o-y) from 3.4% y-o-y in December following a moderate growth in manufacturing which increased 4.2% y-o-y from 4.4% in December.

AmBank Research said the slower manufacturing output is not a surprise, saying the production from E&E which rose 3.9% versus 7.2% in December was in line within expectation.

“The global E& E cycle has peaked and is now on a softening trend. Furthermore, the manufacturing PMI is still in the contraction region. Forward manufacturing indicators have turned soft,” it explained.

Nonetheless, the research house pointed out that manufacturing activities in areas like resource-based have improved. Likewise, he said textile, and food, beverages and tobacco were also higher.

The poor mining output was a result of the decline in crude oil output, down 2.2% in January compared with a gain of 2.5% y-o-y in December while the natural gas output rebounded 0.3% from a 0.2% contraction in December.

The research house said this segment of mining will remain subdued until the crude supply disruption in the Kebabangan gas field recovers by mid-2019.

Meanwhile, UOB Malaysia said the higher investment approvals last year particularly from foreigners augur well for foreign direct investment (FDI) flows.

Assuming 60% of average investment approvals in 2016 to 2018 are realised, this could translate to gross FDIs of RM120-RM130 billion this year.

“The average rate of investment realisation is 60%-70% in the first 18 months. However the timeline is subject to the global outlook and investor sentiment which is tentative at this juncture,” it noted.

Malaysia’s investment approvals rose marginally by 0.5% to RM202 billion last year, from RM201 billion in 2017. Approved foreign investments accelerated 48% to a record RM80.5 billion last year, while approved local investments fell 17% to RM121 billion. This was mainly driven by higher approvals in the manufacturing sector, which increased 37% to RM87 billion or 43% of total investment. Approved China manufacturing investments spiked 411% to RM20 billion in 2018.

Industrial production rose slightly slower in January by 3.2% year-on-year. BERNAMAPIX

Full adoption of IBS for govt affordable home projects by 2024

NILAI: The Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) wants all affordable housing projects under KPKT to be built using the Industrialised Building System (IBS) by 2024, said Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin.

She said the 100,000 affordable houses to be built this year under KPKT’s plan are of a combination of conventional and IBS methods, of which IBS adoption is about 30-40% now.

“As we progress, by the third or fourth year we should be able to do 50-60% and by the fifth year onwards (2024) we should be able to go 100% on IBS for the affordable homes under the national affordable homes project,” she told a press conference after opening MGB Bhd’s IBS precast concrete plant last Saturday.

With an investment of RM40 million and built-up area spanning 119,017 sq ft, MGB’s new IBS plant will produce, market, sell and install a range of IBS components from precast concrete panels, concrete wall panels, concrete slabs to column and beam. The plant is a joint venture between MGB and Sany Construction Industry Development (M) Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of China’s Sany Group Co Ltd.

Zuraida said current IBS adoption in the country produces about 19,000 units of properties per year, including for affordable homes. The addition of MGB’s new plant will now increase production by another 4,000 units to 23,000 units per year.

In May 2018, MGB, a subsidiary of LBS Bina Group Bhd, deployed its first mobile IBS plant at LBS Alam Perdana township with a production capacity of 2,000 units of properties per year and has produced and supplied for the pilot project of 673 units of double storey terrace houses in LBS Alam Perdana.

With IBS, the pilot project was completed within 12 months instead of 18 months, which led to a saving of 33% on construction time. It also reduced dependency on manual labour by 31%, achieving a 49% reduction in total on-site labour costs. Combined with the newly-launched Nilai plant, MGB will be able to produce 4,000 units of properties every year.

“To us, the costs may be the same but IBS saves on time. The quality is good and labour costs are reduced,” said LBS and MGB group managing director Tan Sri Lim Hock San.

He said the new IBS plant would put MGB on a firmer footing to capitalise on the expected rising demand for IBS and enable it to broaden its product lines to cater to the needs of different housing projects. He said currently, production from the new plant caters mainly to internal projects, starting with [email protected] When the plant is operating at full capacity, it hopes to expand its supply to government and external housing projects.

To date, LBS has delivered over 35,000 affordable homes, while MGB has delivered more than 15,000 units of affordable properties to the nation.

Lim said MGB has been using IBS for more than 10 years and previously its focus was mainly on IBS steel formworks and aluminium formworks. Today, it is stepping up its efforts in adopting IBS system, by expanding its operation into IBS precast concrete, which it believe is the future in the construction industry.

On the plant, MGB is looking at breaking even this year and hopes to be profitable next year.

Sany Construction Industry managing director Wang Zhenyi said in 2016, the Sany industrialised housing entered Malaysia. Within three years, it has invested in three IBS plants and participated in three affordable housing projects while nurturing many local industrialised housing talents.

Through the joint venture, it will commit to the transformation and upgrading of traditional construction to IBS construction for a fully developed industrialised housing system in Malaysia.

George Ang vows to make A&W great again

KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — George Ang, the man behind Inter Mark Resources Sdn Bhd (IMRSB) which acquired A&W Malaysia Sdn Bhd from KUB Malaysia Bhd (KUB) last September, vows to make the oldest fast food chain in the country, great again….

Foreign net fund outflow slowed to RM472.2m this week

KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — Foreign net outflow of funds between Monday and  Thursday reduced to RM472.2 million against RM709.9 million recorded in the same period last week.  Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam…

US Fed to hold fire on interest rates as world economy slows

WASHINGTON, March 17 — There is virtually no chance the US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in the coming week, since policymakers have all but promised to hold their fire as the global economy slows. With inflation still tame as US…