• SME development policies may be reviewed
  • PropertyGuru submits proposals for Budget 2018, including relook at interest rates and definition of “affordable” property.
  • Freelancers increasingly significant in the workforce
  • Abe names an aging population as a priority area, Nikkei posts longest winning streak in 70 years
  • Singapore’s economic growth this year to be in upper end of 2% to 3% range
  •  
Policies on SME Development May Be Reviewed

SME Corporation Malaysia said policies related to the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) may be reviewed to strengthen the sector’s contribution to the economy. Its Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Dr Hafsah Hashim, said the proposed policy review would be based on a research being conducted by the agency and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). “The research will be completed by February. The data would be used to prepare a new strategic policy for the SMEs,” she told reporters after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on research collaboration between SME Corp and UPM. The research is aimed at gaining better insights in measuring inter-dependencies among SMEs and large firms in various industries in Malaysia, as well as the multiplier impact from domestic demand and trade.

PropertyGuru’s Wish List for Budget 2018

Despite Malaysia’s property market stabilising in 2017 as consumer sentiments improve and prices showing a gradual uptrend, unaffordability remains at the heart of the matter. This continues to impact Malaysians in a profound way with 83 percent believing that properties are overpriced and 46 percent feels interest rates are too high.

In addressing these and other concerns, PropertyGuru Malaysia, proposes several points for inclusion in Budget 2018. Among the suggestions is an updated guideline and definition of “affordable property”. PropertyGuru pointed out that affordable property may differ from state to state and even location by location and so a clearer reference point is needed to support plans for new housing supply, especially in key urban areas such as the city centre. The definition should include not just price, but also unit size, location, private sector feedback and other considerations. PropertGuru also called for a revision to the Gross Income to Assess Loan Eligibility. It said that by reverting to gross income, market transactions would increase significantly and almost immediately. But it can be restricted to special groups of buyers such as first-time homeowners only.  The portal also called for a relook at interest rates, recommending a reduction of 0.5-1.0% of interest rates for first-time homeowners.

Understanding Freelancing in Malaysia

Globally, freelancers make up 30% of the workforce and are expected to increase to 50% within the next five years. In Malaysia alone, the Employees’ Provident Fund reported that the freelance economy has grown by 31%. Instead of being perceived as temporary labour, freelancers are increasingly viewed as strategic and experienced professionals in key business verticals. With expectations that Malaysia’s 2018 Budget will focus on people-centric and SME benefits, the role of freelancers in shaping the Malaysian economy has become increasingly significant.

The increase of freelancers also points to a changing attitude towards employment, as the new generation of employees look for job flexibility and personal control over the work they engage in, albeit at the potential cost of long term stability. Organisations too then need to understand how this shift towards flexible work environments and a globalised work force will affect their operations and talent pipelines. Recognising the impact of this rapidly emerging economy, INTI International University & Colleges has commissioned a first-ever survey to understand the freelancing landscape in Malaysia. Despite lacking the financial literacy needed to secure their future, responses suggest that more people are beginning to choose freelancing over higher-paying full time jobs. Respondents also indicate that the Malaysian education system is not sufficiently preparing them for the competitive global freelance market.

PM Abe says his priorities are North Korea and aging Japan

Fresh off a decisive election victory, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to tackle what he called Japan’s two national crises: the military threat from North Korea and an aging and shrinking population. Abe said at a news conference that  Japan’s decreasing population and aging is “the biggest challenge” for his Abenomics policy aimed at Japan’s economic recovery from deflation. He promised a comprehensive package by the end of the year to deal with Japan’s demographic challenges, including investments in education, productivity improvements and pension system reform.

Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and a small coalition partner together secured at least 313 seats in the 465-member lower house, passing the 310-barrier for a two-thirds majority. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 on Monday posted the longest winning streak in its nearly 70-year history as markets cheered the weekend election victory of Japan’s pro-business prime minister. The benchmark index rose 1.11%, or 239.01 points, to end the day at 21,696.65, its 15th consecutive rise and the longest since it came into existence in 1950.

Singapore’s economic growth this year to be in upper end of 2% to 3% range

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he expects Singapore’s economic growth this year to be at the upper end of the 2 to 3 per cent range. The Singapore economy was PM Lee’s focus during his reception speech in Washington on Sunday as he met more than 250 Singaporeans based in the United States. Mr Lee’s optimism stems from strong third quarter results in areas such as manufacturing and services. Advance estimates from the Ministry of Trade and Industry last week indicate that the strong showing by the manufacturing sector helped Singapore’s economy grow 4.6 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter from a year ago.