january

 
 

RAM: Headline inflation to remain at 2.5 per cent this year

KUALA LUMPUR: RAM Rating Services Bhd (RAM Ratings) forecasts Malaysia’s headline inflation to remain at 2.5 per cent this year – the same as last year – underpinned by lower contribution from the transport component. The rating agency said transport inflation was unlikely to repeat last year’s double-digit growth trajectory without the low-base effects from […]


Israel announces ‘historic’ gas contract with Egypt

TEL AVIV, Feb 19 — An Egyptian company will buy US$15 billion of Israeli natural gas in two 10-year agreements announced today, marking a major export deal that Israel hopes will strengthen diplomatic ties. The partners in Israel’s Tamar…


Singapore: GST hike ‘sometime’ in between 2021 and 2025

SINGAPORE: Singapore said its Goods & Services Tax (GST) will rise to 9% from 7%, but the change will only come “sometime” between 2021 and 2025, making it likely that the increase would kick in after the city-state’s next general election, due to be held by January 2021.

Instead of getting a GST increase soon, Singaporeans aged 21 and above will get a hong bao, or Lunar New Year red packet, as Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced a “one-off” bonus in 2018 of up to S$300 (RM891), depending on their income.

The bonus comes after Singapore’s trade-reliant economy grew 3.6% in 2017, its best pace in three years.

Song Seng Wun, an economist for CIMB private banking, said the one-off hong bao bonus was a product of Singapore’s economy having a “better than expected outcome” in the last year.

Global economic growth, plus comments by policymakers on the importance of raising revenue to meet future spending needs for Singapore’s ageing population, led many analysts to expect that the GST, kept at 7% since 2007, would increase as early as the coming fiscal year.

“The surprise for us was that the planned increase was for a much later period,” said Jeff Ng, chief economist Asia for Continuum Economics.
“This eases the need for a future government or administration to announce the GST,” he added.

After announcing the planned GST increase, the finance minister said “the exact timing will depend on the state of the economy, how much our expenditures grow, and how buoyant our existing taxes are. But I expect that we will need to do so earlier rather than later in the period.”

Singapore introduced a GST in 1994, at 3%. This was raised to 4% in 2003 and 5% in 2004, then to 7% in 2007.

Besides the plan for raising GST, Heng unveiled other tax measures.

These include increasing the top marginal buyer’s stamp duty on residential property worth more than S$1 million effective tomorrow, raising the excise duty on tobacco products and introducing GST on imported services from 2020.

Coming in 2019 is a carbon tax, which will be S$5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions until 2023. The plan is to increase it to between S$10 and S$15 per tonne by 2030.

The government expects an overall budget deficit of 0.1% of gross domestic product (GDP) for the coming fiscal year, Heng said.

The overall budget deficit for the 2018/19 fiscal year starting on April 1 is expected to be S$600 million, Heng said.

For the 2017/18 fiscal year, the government expects an overall budget surplus of S$9.6 billion or 2.1% of GDP, larger than the forecast made a year earlier. – Reuters


Singapore GST hike ‘sometime’ between 2021 and 2025

SINGAPORE: Singapore said its Goods & Services Tax (GST) will rise to 9% from 7%, but the change will only come “sometime” between 2021 and 2025, making it likely that the increase would kick in after the city-state’s next general election, due to be held by January 2021.

Instead of getting a GST increase soon, Singaporeans aged 21 and above will get a hong bao, or Lunar New Year red packet, as Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced a “one-off” bonus in 2018 of up to S$300 (RM891), depending on their income.

The bonus comes after Singapore’s trade-reliant economy grew 3.6% in 2017, its best pace in three years.

Song Seng Wun, an economist for CIMB private banking, said the one-off hong bao bonus was a product of Singapore’s economy having a “better than expected outcome” in the last year.

Global economic growth, plus comments by policymakers on the importance of raising revenue to meet future spending needs for Singapore’s ageing population, led many analysts to expect that the GST, kept at 7% since 2007, would increase as early as the coming fiscal year.

“The surprise for us was that the planned increase was for a much later period,” said Jeff Ng, chief economist Asia for Continuum Economics.
“This eases the need for a future government or administration to announce the GST,” he added.

After announcing the planned GST increase, the finance minister said “the exact timing will depend on the state of the economy, how much our expenditures grow, and how buoyant our existing taxes are. But I expect that we will need to do so earlier rather than later in the period.”

Singapore introduced a GST in 1994, at 3%. This was raised to 4% in 2003 and 5% in 2004, then to 7% in 2007.

Besides the plan for raising GST, Heng unveiled other tax measures.

These include increasing the top marginal buyer’s stamp duty on residential property worth more than S$1 million effective tomorrow, raising the excise duty on tobacco products and introducing GST on imported services from 2020.

Coming in 2019 is a carbon tax, which will be S$5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions until 2023. The plan is to increase it to between S$10 and S$15 per tonne by 2030.

The government expects an overall budget deficit of 0.1% of gross domestic product (GDP) for the coming fiscal year, Heng said.

The overall budget deficit for the 2018/19 fiscal year starting on April 1 is expected to be S$600 million, Heng said.

For the 2017/18 fiscal year, the government expects an overall budget surplus of S$9.6 billion or 2.1% of GDP, larger than the forecast made a year earlier. – Reuters


Eyes wide shut: the US$1.8b Indian bank fraud that went unnoticed

MUMBAI, Feb 19 — The Punjab National Bank branch in south Mumbai sits just down the road from both the Bombay Stock Exchange and the Reserve Bank of India, at a physical centre of one of the world’s fastest growing major economies. The…


Pound faces `make or break’ week in timing of BOE rate increase

LONDON, Feb 19 — The pound’s near-term direction is likely to be driven this week by economic data that could determine whether the Bank of England raises interest rates within three months. Traders will put most weight on UK employment…


World stocks extend global recovery, set for sixth day of gains

LONDON, Feb 19 — World stocks were set for a sixth session of gains today, extending a recovery from a selloff sparked by fears of creeping inflation and higher borrowing costs. Gains were marginal however, and scored largely in Asian markets,…


How will Singapore fund its rising budget?

SG street scene

SINGAPORE (Feb 19): Ahead of the Budget Speech on Feb 19, the market is abuzz with speculation on which taxes will be raised and which will not. Indeed, the government itself has been hammering home the point over the past year that taxes will need to rise to fund its sharply rising expenditures to reshape the economy, as well as soaring healthcare costs as Singapore’s population ages. The need for higher taxes was a key theme of last year’s Budget Speech and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s speech at theRead More


Once Opec’s oil-price dove, Saudi Arabia takes a harder line

LONDON, Feb 19 — For decades, Saudi Arabia was the voice of moderation within Opec, pushing back against the urging of members like Venezuela and Iran for higher oil prices. That role seems to be shifting. Thanks to Opec-led production cuts,…


Japan stocks gain as yen rise stalls; oil climbs

SYDNEY, Feb 19 — Japanese shares rose today as a rally in the yen paused and after US equities capped their best week in five years. The dollar fell against major peers and oil climbed above US$62 (RM241.06) a barrel. Asian equities are…