• SME Association Calls on Government to Review of Levy Policy
  • Malaysia’s Has Lowest Poverty Rate in South East Asia
  • Lazada hits US$250 mil GMV in grand finale of Online Revolution campaign
  • China Unveils Plans to Dominate Hi Tech Industries by 2020
  • Hotel in Oita to close for 10 days in a row to give employees time off

SME Association Calls on Government to Review of Levy Policy
The SME Association has called on the Government to review the policy of shifting levy payment to the bosses beginning 1 January 2018. SME Association of Malaysia national president Datuk Michael Kang Hua Keong said the SMEs will have to pass the buck to customers as their cost of doing business will increase by 15% to 20%. “If the levy policy goes on, the inflation rate is expected to rise to 5% next year,” he said. He added that the uncertainty of government policies without input from the relevant industries on how to control costs would contribute to rising inflation. In a statement on 20 December, the Human Resources Ministry said the levy system had been fine-tuned as part of the Government’s initiative under the 11th Malaysia Plan to regulate the influx of low-skilled foreign workers and cap their employment number at 15% by 2020. The levy ranges from RM410 to RM1,850 depending on the sector. The rate also differs between the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak.

Malaysia’s Has Lowest Poverty Rate in South East Asia
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), World Factbook 2017 reported that Malaysia’s poverty rate is the lowest when compared to other Southeast Asian countries. Communications and Multimedia Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak said it was just 3.8 per cent compared to Vietnam and Indonesia (11.3 per cent), Thailand (12.6 per cent), Laos (22 per cent), the Philippines (25.2 per cent) and Myanmar (32.7 per cent). He also said the report highlighted that Malaysia’s per capita Gross Domestic product was US$27,200, which was far better than those of its regional peers as Thailand (US$16,800), Indonesia (US$11,700), the Philippines (US$7,700), Vietnam (US$6,400), Myanmar (US$6,000) and Laos (US$5,700). (Bernama)

Lazada hits US$250 mil GMV in grand finale of Online Revolution campaign
Leading eCommerce platform, Lazada Malaysia, together with Lazada Group, wrapped up their month-long Online Revolution campaign by crushing its regional online sales records. The 12.12 grand finale sale raked in US$250 million (RM1.02 billion) in gross merchandise value (GMV), more than doubling last year’s sales. It also shattered the 11.11 record of US$123 million (RM501.6 million), set only a month ago. The Online Revolution was launched on 12 Dec 2012 by Lazada and in Nov 2013 it was expanded by the Rocket Internet group to include three of its Southeast Asian based companies – Lazada, Zalora and FoodPanda – styled after the United States’ Cyber Monday.

China Unveils Plans to Dominate Hi Tech Industries by 2020
China has unveiled three-year plans to increase the country’s economic competitiveness by developing “key technologies” in nine industrial sectors from robotics to railways. The initiatives mark Beijing’s latest efforts to develop industries it deems will play a significant role the in the country’s economic development in the future. Among the plans published by the National Development and Reform Commission are developing magnetic levitation trains with speeds as high as 600km/h by 2020. The other areas targeted by the government include smart cars, robotics, advanced shipbuilding and maritime equipment, modern agricultural machinery, advanced medical devices and drugs, new materials, smart manufacturing and machine tools. The aim is “to make China a powerful manufacturing country” and upgrade the nation’s industrial power through “the internet, big data and artificial intelligence”, according to the commission. (SCMP)

Hotel in Oita to close for 10 days in a row to give employees time off
A popular hotel in southwestern Japan will close for 10 straight days in January at a cost of 200 million yen in revenues to give its employees time off, in the belief that the unusual measure will help to secure quality human resources. Officials at the 647-room Suginoi Hotel in Beppu (pic), one of the world’s largest hot spring resorts in Oita Prefecture, said the hotel will be closed from 9-18 January to allow around 800 staff to take holidays. The hotel, which opened in 1944, is one of the largest in the Kyushu region, known for its terraced outdoor baths with panoramic views. It draws around 700,000 guests annually. In 2010, Orix Real Estate Corp, the hotel’s operator headquartered in Tokyo, began closing the Oita hotel for five straight days in mid-January to allow employees to inspect hotels in Asia or the United States. Those not wishing to participate in the trips can take days off during the closure. From next year, the company will extend the closure to 10 days. Suginoi Hotel currently boasts nearly full occupancy rates following a large-scale renovation and its active promotion to foreign travellers. (Kyodo)