Malaysia’s top CPO producer stepping up efforts for CSPO recognition

SANDAKAN: Malaysia’s top crude palm oil producing (CPO) state Sabah, is stepping up efforts to pool together its large number of plantation smallholders to achieve economies of scale and efficiency in full compliance of the Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) by 2025, under a jurisdictional programme.

Non-governmental organisation Forever Sabah board chair and chief executive facilitator Cynthia Ong said it is unable to ascertain the exact number of smallholders in the state, but believes there are easily 100,000 smallholders.

A jurisdictional certification steering committee was formed in 2016 to spur Sabah, the first state in the world to adopt CSPO that is certified by the international standards of the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The committee will look into the issue of smallholders, sort out land issues, as well as to lower the cost of smallholders to obtain certification and to increase yield and income.

Sabah Forestry Department chief conservator of forests Datuk Sam Mannan said Sabah remains committed to pursue CSPO by 2025 to be relevant to the market and is not against the local Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification, which will be made mandatory by the end of 2019.

“We chose what we think is best. We’ve chosen RSPO long before we talked about MSPO. MSPO can carry on, we’re not against any system that improves performance and work on the ground, but in the end, we decide what we want. This is our land, our rights, our hard work, our failures and our successes,” said Sam.

The Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council (MPOCC) had expressed concern over the Sabah Forestry Department’s decision to seek the RSPO certification, instead of the MSPO, explaining that RSPO is a business-to-business arrangement and voluntary in nature.

MSPO is a national certification scheme developed taking into account domestic laws and regulations, and best practices relating to sustainable production of palm oil.

According to data from the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, Sabah is the top crude palm oil (CPO)-producing state in Malaysia with a production volume of 4.21 million tonnes or 26% of the country’s CPO production for the first 10 months of 2017.

Social enterprise Wild Asia field coordinator for Sabah, Burhanuddin Ismail said it act as a group manager for smallholders to obtain RSPO certification via a group certification scheme under the Wild Asia Group Scheme (WAGS).

WAGS is a programme created to support independent producers to improve their practices. It has 798 smallholder members who are RSPO-certified, mostly in Sabah.

He said it is a challenge to group these smallholders together, as they are scattered in terms of location, while some of them are illiterate, making documentation and adoption of new methods difficult. – by Ee Ann Nee

Mieco Chipboard’s third quarter earnings jump three-fold

PETALING JAYA: Mieco Chipboard Bhd’s net profit for the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2017 jumped more than three-fold to RM15.62 million from RM4.23 million a year ago driven by higher selling price and improved production efficiency.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia today, the group said its performance a year ago was also lower due to higher production reject and repair and maintenance cost.

Revenue for the quarter rose 11.10% to RM101.13 million from RM91.03 million a year ago mainly due to the continued strong selling prices from plainboard.

For the nine months ended Sept 30, 2017, net profit fell 4.63% to RM34.56 million from RM36.24 million a year ago due to a one-time exceptional RM35 million gain on sale of Mieco Wood Products Sdn Bhd in the first quarter of 2016.

Revenue for the period rose 18.19% to RM273.86 million from RM231.71 million a year ago due to the higher overall sales volume, better plainboard selling prices and improved production efficiency.

The group anticipates market conditions to be more competitive and challenging in the particle board industry due to the downward pricing pressure on its products.

“The pricing pressure is due to the softening of global demand and keener competition on the recent entrance of new players in the market,” it said.

It said it will continue to explore new market opportunities locally and abroad, streamline production efficiency, impose stringent cost control, develop effective branding strategies and shift towards higher value products to mitigate the challenges.

Mieco’s share price rose 2.61% or 3 sen to close at RM1.18 today with a total of 5.93 million shares traded, giving it a market capitalisation of RM619.50 million.

KKB Engineering posts RM4.97m net profit in Q3

PETALING JAYA: KKB Engineering Bhd has posted a net profit of RM4.97 million for the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2017 (Q3), from a net loss RM135,000 in the previous corresponding quarter on the back of higher revenue.

Revenue for the quarter surged 78.3% to RM49.3 million, compared with RM27.6 million in the same period last year.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia today, KKB said the increase in revenue was mainly due to higher revenue recognition from its civil construction division but offset by lower revenue from its steel pipes manufacturing division as compared to the preceding year corresponding quarter.

For the nine months period, its net loss widened to RM3.7 million, against RM1.7 million a year ago, while revenue jumped 80.7% to RM139.1 million, from RM77 million previously.

On its prospects, KKB said the group had weathered a tough 1H 2017, but saw a positive sign of recovery towards the 2H 2017. It will maintain its effort on cost management, product quality and operational efficiency to further improve its operating results, amid the threat of adverse effect from the volatility of raw material steel prices and foreign exchange rates on its performance.

KKB gained 4.5 sen or 5.33% to 89 sen today with a total of 843,100 shares traded.

Ringgit has greatly stabilised since November 2016: BNM

KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit has seen significant developments since November last year when it was one of the most volatile currencies, but now it has not only strengthened but has greatly stabilised, said Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim.

“The implied volatility has declined from a peak of 9.7% to about 3.7% currently,” he said in his opening remarks at the Financial Markets Association of Malaysia’s annual dinner last Friday.

He said the influence of offshore market activities and its damaging spillovers to the ringgit exchange rate had subsided, consistent with the significant decline in transaction volume in the non-deliverable forward market.

“On the other hand, foreign exchange transaction volume in the onshore market has been sustained with improving transaction costs, facilitating business transactions for all market participants,” he said.

Muhammad said the ringgit did, to some extent, reflect Malaysia’s economic fundamentals, and the fact that its recent recovery coincided with strong domestic data releases suggested that.

“Nevertheless, in a global financial market that is driven by short-term developments, the ringgit exchange rate can veer in unexpected directions and reach levels that are far from reflecting economic realities,” he said.

“Unfortunately, most of these movements are not driven by facts, but perceptions and in ringgit’s case, I would call it misperceptions.

“We tend to, in some other instances, base our perception on prior evidence and situations that we are familiar with, rather than update our views with new information,” he said.

For many economists and analysts, Malaysia is an oil-dependent economy and when the oil price goes south, the Malaysian economy suffers.

“While this was true many years ago, these simple relationships are continuously assumed to be fixed and hold to perpetuity,” said Muhammad.

Despite the many structural changes leading to a more diversified Malaysian economy and reduced reliance on oil, this perception has persisted.

“For the uninitiated, the percentage of oil revenues to government revenues was 41.3% in 2009 compared to only 14.6% in 2016.

“This fact seems to elude many analysts,” he added. – Bernama

Foreign selling returns to Bursa

PETALING JAYA: Foreign selling returned to Bursa last week, with international investors dumping RM297.1 million net of Malaysian equities, the highest weekly attrition recorded in seven weeks.

“Foreign selling returned to Bursa at a rather intensified level compared with the amount disposed in the past six weeks that did not exceed RM100 million net,” MIDF Research said in its fund flow report today.

Foreign buyers exactly matched foreign sellers on Monday and a bout of acquisition took place on Tuesday where foreign investors bought RM181.3 million net, the highest net inflow in a day in almost five months despite the weak China industrial output data that coincided with the 0.22% dip in the FBM KLCI.

“However, foreign investors were back in selling mode thereafter until the week ended with Thursday recording the highest amount sold at US$282.1 million (RM1.17 billion) net. The heavy foreign buying on Thursday saw the FBM KLCI close at an eight-month low of 1,718 points ahead of the House of Representatives’ vote for a tax cut bill,” it said.

It noted that market sentiment improved later on Friday following the central bank’s announcement of a strong Q3’17 gross domestic product growth of 6.2%, which led to a 0.21% rebound in the FBM KLCI.

“Foreign selling still occurred on the same day but on a reduced level below RM100 million net,” it added.

Following the intense foreign selling last week, the cumulative year-to-date inflow has substantially decreased to RM9 billion from RM9.31 billion in the week before but the year-to-date inflow still offsets about 31% of the total net outflow from 2014 to 2016.

Foreign participation improved as the foreign average daily trade value (ADTV) surged by 27% to RM1.13 billion after three weeks of staying below the RM1 billion mark.

In contrast, the retail ADTV decreased by 8% to settle below the RM1 billion level at RM957 million.

Malaysia’s Social Accounting Matrix launched

PETALING JAYA: The Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) today launched the inaugural report on Malaysia’s Social Accounting Matrix (SAM).

It said in a statement that SAM is a detailed framework that portrays comprehensive data for a particular year and it integrates the economic and social statistics as well as linkages among the institutions in Malaysia, namely households, financial and non-financial corporations, government and the rest of the world.

The balanced structure of SAM provides important input for the distribution of income and expenditure in fiscal analysis.

At macro level, SAM gives a snapshot on the Malaysia economy’s flows in a year, while at micro level, it focuses on the income distributions for households, particularly compensation of employees by strata, income category, ethnic category and gender.

The chief statistician of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin, noted SAM is one of the statistical product that is commonly used by the policy maker and researcher to measure the effectiveness factors of policy implementation that is affecting the economy of the country, including the flow of income sources and spending patterns for institutions.

SAM was developed by DOSM since 2009 for internal compilation.

In 2014, the statistics on SAM showed that total household income was RM638.8 billion with compensation of employees and unincorporated business profits being the main contributor by registering a share of 72.3% or RM461.6 billion.

Euro, German stock market edge up after coalition talks collapse

LONDON, Nov 20 — The euro and Germany’s stock market managed to eke out gains today despite the country’s collapse of talks to form a new government. Around 1030 GMT, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index was up 0.2 per cent after opening down by a…

Petronas Dagangan upbeat on liquefied petroleum gas market

KUALA LUMPUR: Petronas Dagangan Bhd, which currently holds about 50% share of the domestic liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) market, remains positive on the LPG industry in the country.

“We have positive outlook on the industry as it is still growing in Malaysia. We plan to grow naturally with the market, depending on the market growth,” its head of LPG business division Ramzulhakim Ramli told reporters at a media briefing here today.

“The market growth last year was about 1.5%,” he added.

The principal domestic marketing arm of Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) had previously announced its plans to exit the LPG business in the Philippines, with the disposal of its entire stake in Petronas Energy Philippines Inc and 40% stake in Duta Inc for RM532.5 million.

Following that, the group had also sold its LPG bottling and distribution operations in Vietnam, citing the divestment was in line with its portfolio rationalisation.

Ringgit continues upward momentum to end higher

KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit continued its upward momentum to end higher against the US dollar today on positive sentiment brought by expectations of Malaysia's stronger growth, dealers said.

At 6 pm, the local unit traded at 4.1480/1510 against the greenback from 4.1600/1630 last Friday.

A dealer said the ringgit continued to respond to the positive spillover from Malaysia's 6.2% economic growth recorded in the third quarter of this year as announced last Friday.

“The sentiment was also lifted by the recent hawkish monetary policy statement by Bank Negara Malaysia, as well as expectations of a stronger economic growth and a wider current account surplus.

“Looking forward, we expect the ringgit to recover gradually over time as the Malaysian economy is still expected to grow at a sustained pace,” he said.

The dealer said the strengthening of the ringgit was also contributed by the weaker US dollar due to uncertainty over the US tax reform plan.

It is noted that while the local note strengthened significantly, oil prices dipped three percent during the Nov 8-16 period, indicating that the ringgit remained disengaged with movements in global crude prices, he added.

The ringgit was traded higher against a basket of major currencies except for the Japanese yen.

It rose against the Singapore dollar to 3.0599/0623 from 3.0656/0685 and strengthened versus the euro to 4.8917/8961 from 4.9055/9103 on last Friday.

It increased against the British pound to 5.5073/5134 from 5.5120/5168 last Friday but weakened vis-a-vis the yen to 3.6993/7026 from 3.6961/6998 previously. – Bernama

Petronas Dagangan upbeat on LPG market

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 — Petronas Dagangan Bhd, which aims to maintain its market leadership position in the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) market in Malaysia, is upbeat on the sector’s outlook given the country’s growing population.  LPG…