Benettons go from preachers to pariahs after Genoa bridge disaster

ROME, Aug 19 — For half a century, Italy’s Benetton family has preached compassion through eye-popping ads for its eponymous clothing line that have included photos of a dying Aids patient, a black woman breastfeeding a white baby and, most…

Australia ramps up aid to farmers as drought bites

SYDNEY, Aug 19 — Financial aid for drought-stricken Australian farmers will be increased to A$1.8 billion (RM5.41 billion) as they endure the driest conditions in half a century, the prime minister said today. Farmers in eastern states are…

Der Spiegel: VW’s CEO was told about emissions software months before scandal

FRANKFURT, Aug 18 — Volkswagen Chief Executive Herbert Diess was told about the existence of cheating software in cars two months before regulators blew the whistle on a multi-billion exhaust emissions scandal, German magazine Der Spiegel said….

Russian oil industry would weather US ‘bill from hell’

MOSCOW: Stiff new US sanctions against Russia would only have a limited impact on its oil industry because it has drastically reduced its reliance on Western funding and foreign partnerships and is lessening its dependence on imported technology. Western sanctions imposed in 2014 over Russia’s annexation of Crimea have already made it extremely hard for […]

The smarter way to invest during volatile times

THE popular manner unit trust funds are promoted by fund sales promoters are based on fund past performance. And that is also the common way investor gets the impression and decides which fund is good to invest in. Why? Because this feeds exactly into the investor’s psychology of wanting to see the good double-digit performance. […]

Australia expects free trade deals this year with Indonesia, Hong Kong

SYDNEY, Aug 17 — The Australian government expects to seal free trade agreements with Indonesia and Hong Kong by year’s end, its trade minister said today. Concluding the two agreements would wrap years of talks, which in the case of Indonesia…

FMM, ACCCIM cry foul over four-month wait for GST refunds

PETALING JAYA: The country's two largest business bodies, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) and the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM), are both protesting against the more than four-month long wait for goods and services tax (GST) refunds, citing cash flow constraints, especially with the year-end approaching and payment difficulties.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said in a statement on Wednesday the government will repay the RM19.4 billion outstanding GST refunds to 121,429 companies and individuals from next year.

FMM president Datuk Soh Thian Lai told SunBiz that if the government could not refund GST input tax claims in the near term, it should be more specific on the payment schedule. He thinks FMM members' claims alone could account for at least RM1 billion.

“We are concerned over this, (because) based on 100 members' responses to our survey, it was already RM220 million and yesterday one company sent … (its claim) … which was already an additional RM45 million … if you add up (claims of) our 3,000 members, the figure could go into billions, or at least RM1 billion,” he explained.

Soh said the delay in GST refunds and the implementation of the new sales and services (SST) come Sept 1 will be a double blow for manufacturers, which will affect their cash flows and lead to payment difficulties, among others.

He said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) should be given priority in GST refunds for that reason.

FMM is awaiting a response to a letter it sent to the Finance Ministry two days ago on a detailed action plan to solve the issue of unpaid GST refunds.

The manufacturers body is of the view that the government should be more specific on its payment schedule, such as when it will be done, whom or which industries will be refunded first, will it be the SMEs or the MNCs, and how the money will be paid.

“Our wish is that they pay before SST (is implemented). If they are not able to do so, they should come up with the schedule (for payment),” Soh said.

Echoing his sentiment, ACCCIM chairman of SMEs and human resource development committee Koong Lin Loong said the refund is “obviously too late” and may affect businesses' cash flow and the overall business ecosystem.

With the year-end approaching, some businesses, he said, will require more money for their seasonal sales.

For the easier and straightforward cases, the refunds should be done sooner.

While acknowledging the need for the authorities to make checks to avoid fraudulent claims, Koong said the authorities can speed up the process by publishing a checklist on the documentation requirements for the refunds.

“They should tell business owners to get ready with the minimum documents and ask them to come forward and submit their documents on a voluntary basis,” he said.

This, he added, will also expedite the documents screening process.

Meanwhile, the finance minister's special officer, Tony Pua, was quoted as saying in an interview with TV3 that the money needed for GST refunds will be included in Budget 2019.

He said the government is mulling the introduction of new taxes to raise money for the refunds. Pua, however, gave the assurance that the new taxes will not burden the B40 (bottom 40% of household income) group.

Australia's giants plan to get richer by shrinking fast

SYDNEY, Aug 17 — In Australia, empire-building is so yesterday. Defying a global spike in acquisitions, some of Australia’s biggest and oldest companies are trying to shrink to greatness. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Wesfarmers Ltd and…

Walton family’s wealth surges US$11.6b as Walmart rallies

LONDON, Aug 16 — The world’s wealthiest family just got US$11.6 billion richer. Walmart Inc reported its strongest sales in more than a decade today, sending the retailer’s shares soaring as much 11 per cent and boosting the fortunes of Walton…

Turkey will emerge stronger from lira crisis, finance minister tells investors

ISTANBUL, Aug 16 — Finance Minister Berat Albayrak assured international investors today that Turkey would emerge stronger from its currency crisis, insisting that the country’s banks were healthy. In a conference call with thousands of…