PUNB disbursed over RM79 mln to Entrepreneurs in First Half of 2017
Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Bhd (PUNB) approved loans totalling RM79.4 million to 255 entrepreneurs under five financing schemes in the first six months of the year. PUNB Chairman Tan Sri Mohamad Ali Rustam (pic) said 127 entrepreneurs received RM31.1 million from PUNB under the Prosper Retail Scheme, RM19.2 million was disbursed to 4 entrepreneurs under the SME Scheme while RM13.2 million was given to 56 entrepreneurs under the Prosper Teras Scheme. He said 10 entrepreneurs received RM12.8 million under the Prosper Wholesale Scheme and RM3.1 million was approved to 48 entrepreneurs under the Prosper Young Entrepreneur Scheme.

CPI Rises 3.6 %In June
Malaysia’s consumer price index (CPI), which measures headline inflation, rose 3.6 % on a year-on-year basis in June 2017, while core inflation rose 2.5 %. The Department of Statistics said among the major groups which contributed to the CPI increase were the transport index (+10.5 %), food and non-alcoholic beverages (+4.3 %), recreation services and culture (+3.0 %), health (+2.6 %), restaurants and hotels (+2.5 %) and housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (+2.2 %). The department said the transport group index showed a significant increase of 10.5 % year-on-year in June 2017, after rising 13.1 % in May 2017.

Access to financing is not the primary issue for affordable housing
Bank Negara Malaysia said access to financing is not the main issue for affordable housing. The Central Bank said this in a statement in response to calls to review housing loan criteria for potential buyers of affordable houses. BNM said the comments by some parties in the media had caused confusion and were not based on facts and accurate information. BNM pointed out that eligible home buyers would continue to have access to financing. In the first five months of 2017, RM40 billion of housing loans were approved to more than 152,000 borrowers. Three quarters of these borrowers were first time house buyers. The approval rate for housing loans has also been stable at 74%.

Malaysia Committed Towards Strengthening Trade Ties With US
International Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said Malaysia is committed towards strengthening and deepening bilateral trade relations with the United States following changes in the Trump administration. He said the new approaches would be explored, including the option of reactivating the Trade and Investment Facilitation Agreement, to improve trade between both countries. The US is Malaysia’s third largest trading partner, as well as the country’s largest investor in the electrical and electronic sector. Datuk Seri Mustapa said Malaysia hopes to come up with a concrete proposal in the fourth quarter to help kick start lasting trade ties between the two countries. He said this in response to a report that the US and Malaysia would establish working groups to address trade matters such as labour, intellectual property and environment.

Undergrads tackle real world engineering challenges at Innovate Malaysia 2017
INNOVATE Malaysia 2017 has concluded the largest engineering design competition in the country with a showcase of the innovative projects by 45 teams nationwide. The seventh edition of the Innovate Malaysia Design Competition (IMDC) aims to inculcate the culture of innovation among final year engineering, computer science, and IT undergraduates in Malaysia. The competition, which saw the participation of over 600 students this year, received support from the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), and the Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM). As part of this season’s challenge, the participants were invited to compete across the nine organisers’ technology track, where they tackle real-world problems with practical engineering solutions through the submission of a proposal paper in the initial stage of the competition. Launched  in October 2016, the IMDC 2017 received more than 390 creative ideas from the public.

Japan business mood steady at high levels as economy recovers
Japanese manufacturers’ and service providers’ business confidence held steady at high levels in July, a Reuters poll found today, underlining the central bank’s upbeat view on the economy. Manufacturers’ sentiment stood at a decade-high peak and service-sector mood maintained its two-year high, offering further evidence of broadening confidence. Sentiment was likely to hold largely steady over the next three months.