Highlights:
  1. IATA expects global passenger demand up 6 per cent in 2019
  2. Malaysia-China relations not expected to be affected by WSJ claims
  3. IRB expects RM10b in collection under amnesty period
  4. Deloitte expects more sign-ups for Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme
  5. China says trade talks with US concluded, both sides serious
IATA expects global passenger demand up 6 per cent in 2019 The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has maintained a six per cent passenger demand growth this year, amid uncertainties from trade tensions, protective tariffs and Brexit. It said global passenger traffic for November 2018 was healthy but moderating, where revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 6.2 per cent compared with the same period in 2017, slightly lower than the 6.3 per cent growth in October. “Capacity in terms of available seat kilometres (ASKs) increased 6.8 per cent year-on-year but load factor dipped 0.4 percentage point to 80.0 per cent. It was only the third time in two years that load factor fell on a year-to-year basis,” it said in a statement today. Malaysia-China relations not expected to be affected by WSJ claims The Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) recent report on the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) bailout fiasco will not further affect bilateral relations between Malaysia and China, and exacerbate the strain on the economic front that followed the cancellation of China-backed projects, analysts say. Singapore Institute of International Affairs political analyst for Malaysia, Oh Ei Sun, said the latest series of revelations on the scandal-ridden 1MDB would not affect relations significantly, as two other factors had a larger impact. The factors are the Malaysian government’s review of various infrastructure projects undertaken by Chinese companies and China’s tighter currency control measures. Among the projects under scrutiny are the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail, East Coast Rail Line, and Forest City in Johor, while three oil and gas pipeline projects worth US$3 billion (RM12.44 billion) have been cancelled. Besides the cancelled China-backed projects, he pointed out that China’s tighter currency control measures had also made it extremely difficult for capital to leave China and be invested in Malaysia. Oh said Chinese investors usually looked for incentives, especially in the form of tax concession or land price reduction, before deciding where to invest. The Chinese Embassy in Malaysia yesterday said both China and Malaysia had treated each other as “friendly neighbours and sincere partners”. IRB expects RM10b in collection under amnesty period The Inland Revenue Board (IRB) expects the special Voluntary disclosure programme (SVDP) which ends on 30 June to attract at least one million taxpayers. IRB chief executive officer Datuk Seri Sabin Samitah said on Wednesday the department estimated RM10bil in tax collection under the SVDP. Meanwhile, Deloitte expects more sign-ups for the SVDP before its expiry in June. With six months left before the SVDP period closes, penalty rates of 80% to 300% befall those who have yet to voluntarily disclose their unreported taxes or may have misrepresented their past filings. During this disclosure period, SVDP offers a heavily reduced penalty rate of 10% or 15% to eligible taxpayers, with declarations accepted in good faith by the tax authority. Focused on increasing awareness of the SVDP to corporates and individuals, Deloitte Malaysia tax experts and IRBM officials shared insights, best approaches and prevailing case studies on the SVDP at an exclusive SVDP Seminar for C-suites and senior management executives in Kuala Lumpur today. Sim Kwang Gek, Country Tax Leader of Deloitte Malaysia applauded the timely introduction of SVDP by the government and stressed on the importance of providing complete disclosure in financial reporting and tax filing. “Practising transparency is an organisation’s biggest asset. It helps with management and organisational credibility, and can boost investors’ trust and positively influence the performance of an organisation while protecting shareholders’ interests.” China says trade talks with US concluded, both sides serious China and the U.S. have concluded trade talks in Beijing that were extended by one day. A government spokesman said China would be releasing a statement soon on the outcome of the talks. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the extension shows both sides are serious about negotiations, after more than two days of trade talks.  The mid-level talks were the first face-to-face meeting between the two sides since both presidents met on 1 December 2018. Prior to the meeting, China made a number of concessions to U.S. demands including temporarily cutting punitive tariffs on U.S.-made cars, resuming soybean purchases, promising to open up its markets for more foreign investment, and drafting a law to prevent forced technology transfers. US President Donald Trump tweeted “Talks with China are going very well!” late on Tuesday in Beijing. Vice Premier Liu He, an economic aide to President Xi Jinping and the top negotiator on the Chinese side, made a brief appearance at the talks on Monday. World stocks extended their gains to hit a near-four week high and oil prices rose on Wednesday on optimism that the United States and China may be inching toward a trade deal, soothing fears of an all-out trade war. Oil prices roared 2 percent higher in their eight day of gains. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures CLc1 have soared more than 20 percent since hitting an 18-month low in late December and have now broken through the $50 per barrel overnight for the first time in 2019.