Highlights:

  1. Senate passes sales tax bill
  2. Malaysia’s economy to expand at a slower pace in 4Q
  3. Singapore-based companies eyeing Malaysia for regional expansion
  4. Singapore to nominate hawker culture for UNESCO’s cultural heritage list
  5. CIMB introduces benefits for staff with special needs children

Senate passes sales tax bill
The Dewan Negara has approved the Sales Tax Bill without serious opposition. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng (pic) said the new tax system will be less burdensome to the public, but made no predictions about its immediate effect on prices. “I want to guarantee the Dewan Negara that the SST’s main aim in replacing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is to ensure the rakyat’s prosperity,” he said in the Senate today. Lim said the list of over 5,000 items exempted from the Sales and Service Tax (SST) may change depending on the situation. However, he said the government would work with various parties to ensure that the people would benefit accordingly. “The amount of goods may increase and also decrease. Generally we can expect that it will not decrease but I do not want to guarantee on something that I have yet to get the details. “This is a government that does not want to make empty promises,” he said when winding up debate on the Sales Tax Bill 2018 in the Dewan Negara.

Malaysia’s economy to expand at a slower pace in 4Q
The Department of Statistics said Malaysia’s economic growth momentum is expected to expand at a slower pace in the fourth quarter (4Q) of 2018 in view of the current moderate trend. In a statement titled “Malaysian Economic Indicators: Leading, Coincident & Lagging Indexes June 2018” released today, the department said the monthly change of Leading Index (LI) recorded an increase of 0.5 per cent points to 118.4 points from 117.8 points in May 2018. “The annual change of LI rose 0.3 per cent in June 2018 compared with negative 0.7 per cent in the previous month”. The LI indicators are designed to indicate the direction of the economy for the next four to six months. The performance of the LI in the reference month was driven by an increase in real imports of other basic precious and other non-ferrous metals (0.6 per cent), number of new companies registered (0.5 per cent) and expected sales value in the manufacturing sector (0.4 per cent).

Singapore-based companies eyeing Malaysia for regional expansion
Malaysia is set to be the biggest beneficiary of Singapore-based companies’ expansion into ASEAN due to the growing consumer market and relative ease of doing business, according to a report by HSBC. Based on a survey of 1,036 Singapore-based companies, the report stated that 36 per cent had indicated Malaysia as their destination of choice for overseas expansion in the next two years. In a statement today, HSBC said 80 per cent of the respondents cited potential customer demands, 75 per cent highlighted ease of building relationships and 73 per cent noted Malaysia’s overall investment climate as factors which influenced their decision. Those who were surveyed also highlighted Malaysia’s manufacturing sector’s adoption of higher-end automation and innovation and the lower cost of living compared to Singapore. Currently, there are approximately 37,400 international companies in Singapore, including 7,000 multinational corporations.

Singapore to nominate hawker culture for UNESCO’s cultural heritage list
Singapore will be nominating Hawker Culture for the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The decision to nominate Hawker Culture was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally Sunday, where he spoke about hawker centres being a unique part of Singapore’s society, heritage and identity. This follows Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Grace Fu’s earlier announcement where she shared how Singapore is looking at a possible listing of an intangible cultural heritage element on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The chosen element, she stressed, has to be one that resonates with all Singaporeans, and reflects Singapore’s multicultural heritage to the world.

CIMB introduces benefits for staff with special needs children
CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. today introduced fresh policies for staff with special needs children by providing financial assistance and flexible work arrangements to help them focus on their children and career. The policies will allow eligible employees to work from home one day per week, and receive financial aid of up to RM1,000 per child monthly. The latest enhancements are part of ‘Workplace Wellness@CIMB’, a comprehensive work-life initiative to assist employees in both their professional and personal aspirations.