Highlights:

  1. MITI says SMEs can expect good news in 2019 Budget
  2. TI: Malaysia on the right track to reduce corruption
  3. #MYCYBERSALE 2018 surpasses target
  4. Banks to report cash transactions above RM25k from 1 January 2019
  5. Houses up to 10% cheaper with SST exemption
  6. No more middlemen in hiring of Nepalese workers

SMEs can expect good news in 2019 Budget
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry said mall and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can expect some good news in the upcoming Budget 2019, to be tabled by the government on Friday. Its Minister, Datuk Darell Leiking said there may be a lot of incentives to be announced for the backbone of Malaysia’s economy. “We will leave it to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng to present the incentives as well as budget plans for 2019,” he told reporters after launching the National Investment Seminar 2018 organised by Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA). Datuk Darell said the SME’s targeted contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and export share by 2020 had been raised to 41 per cent and 23 per cent respectively, from 37.1 per cent and 17.3 per cent in 2017. To achieve this target, he said 32 initiatives would be intensified to develop resilient and sustainable SMEs, including high impact and business accelerator programmes, government financing mechanisms and facilities, as well as the National eCommerce Strategic Roadmap.

Malaysia on the right track to reduce corruption – Transparency International
Transparency International Malaysia said the government is on the right track to reduce corruption in the country, recording no report on the matter since the Pakatan Harapan took over Putrajaya in May. TI-M Secretary-General Dr Muhammad Mohan said under the administration led by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, issues involving corruption had been taken seriously from all aspects, including government servants. He said the government would take stern action against the corrupt parties, both receiver and giver, hence facing the consequence and punishment once found guilty. Dr Muhammad said the procurement area had been identified among the most vulnerable elements that helped expose corruption activities, while culture and religion had been addressed as the major challenges to combat corruption.

#MYCYBERSALE 2018 surpasses target
#MYCYBERSALE 2018 generated RM390 million in gross merchandise value (GMV), beating a set target of RM380 million and achieving 25 per cent annual growth. The National ICT Association of Malaysia (Pikom) said export revenue also rose to RM51 million in GMV this year compared with RM39 million in 2017 thanks to shoppers in 32 countries counting Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, North and South America. This is the second year that Pikom is organising Malaysia’s biggest online sale event, in collaboration with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). MDEC chief operating officer, Datuk Ng Wan Peng, said: “MDEC is pleased to continue to support Pikom in #MYCYBERSALE, an initiative developed to help more local SMEs take their rightful place in the burgeoning e-commerce arena and place Malaysia as a regional e-commerce powerhouse. “I was also pleased to note the rising participation this year of small businesses from the eUsahawan programme as the number of micro-SMEs surged from 100 in 2017 to 338 in 2018.” Pikom chairman, Ganesh Kumar Bangah, said: “In this year’s event, some merchants demonstrated a winning approach to venture into multi categories to broaden their portfolio of products.” There were 1,260 merchants in 21 categories in the fifth #MYCYBERSALE held in September. It was previously held by MDEC from 2014-2016. Products from the lifestyle and fashion categories were the top favourites among consumers.

Banks to report cash transactions above RM25k from next year
From 1 January 2019, banks must report any cash transactions exceeding RM25,000 in their daily cash threshold report, a reduction from the current RM50,000 limit. Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Yunus said despite the advancements made in epayments, the use of cash among the public and small and medium-sized businesses remains high. “This opens up the economy to risks as cash is still being used by criminals to launder illegal proceeds, as we have seen from some high-profile cases over the past year or so. “Similarly, this is the preferred mode to finance terrorist activities, which  will involve  transacting  in  cash,” she said. The present requirements call for sources of funds to be disclosed for any financial transactions exceeding RM50,000 that is done over the counter, involving physical currencies and bearer negotiable instruments such as travellers’ cheques.

Houses up to 10% cheaper with SST exemption
The cost of new homes is expected to fall between five and 10% following the Sales and Services tax (SST) exemption on construction services and building materials. Finance Minister, Lim Guan Eng said, “We placed the exemption because we want to boost the real estate sector. We hope to see a fall in new house prices.” Lim said that the discounts are however only applicable to newly-launched homes and does not include low-cost housing projects.

No more middlemen in hiring of Nepalese workers
Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said the use of middlemen in the hiring of Nepalese foreign workers would be eliminated as all deals will be done through a government-to-government (G2G) initiative. He said the government had just concluded the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nepal government to allow them to send workers, including domestic maids to Malaysia. “We are doing away with all of the middlemen and instead will be using the G2G in our direct recruitment exercise,” he told reporters in Parliament. It is learnt that there are currently more than 500,000 Nepalese workers in Malaysia. About 150,000 of them are hired as security guards, while the rest are involved in construction and manufacturing.