• Stronger Leading Index points to positive GDP growth
  • Internet Alliance lauds government’s Cloud-First strategy
  • Sarawak wants its own version of the DFTZ
  • Grab seeks excise duty rebate for Malaysian-made cars
  • Singapore to stop car population growth next year
  • Singapore SME Shopping Week attracts 5500 SMEs
  • Singapore bags 6 clean energy investments, creating 400 professional jobs
  • Hong Kong buyers make beeline for London assets

Malaysia’s Leading Index Rose 1.9%
Malaysia’s economy is set to continue growing positively in the near term based a higher Leading Index (LI) in August, which monitors the economic performance in advance. The Statistics Department said the LI rose 1.9% to 120.3 points in August from 118.1 points in July. The firmer growth was underpinned by the increase in the number of housing units approved (0.7%), number of new companies registered (0.6%) and real imports of semiconductors (0.5%).

Internet Alliance calls on government to lower or exempt withholding tax for local organisations wanting to adopt digital services
Internet Alliance (‘IA’), a not-for-profit organisation that facilitates about 85% of Malaysia’s active Internet scene, lauds the Cloud-First strategy for government agencies and public sector to boost the digital economy. President of IA, Chan Kee Siak says, “We at IA, are thrilled that the government recognises how the cloud is fundamental to digital transformation. The Cloud has become a powerful and cost-efficient method to deliver ICT solutions and services to support the economy. Therefore, prioritising government agencies to adopt Cloud-based ICT solutions, sets a strong example of how to free from the high costs of initial equipment investments.” At the same time, Chan calls on the government to consider lowering or exempting withholding tax for local organisations wanting to adopt Cloud or other Digital Services. Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the Cloud First strategy as part of the National Agenda at the 29th MSC Malaysia Implementation Council Meeting last week.. The Cloud-First strategy fundamentally involves the adoption of cloud for government agencies to rapidly deliver innovative public sector services without incurring high levels of capital expenditure to invest in the IT infrastructure such as data centres, services and storage.

Call to Set Up Sarawak’s Version Of DFTZ
Sarawak’s Second Minister of Finance, Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said there is a need to set up Sarawak’s version of the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) to accelerate the development of e-Commerce and the state’s digital economy. He hopes the state government would take up the suggestion, adding that with its own DFTZ, Sarawak e-Commerce and digital economy would be able to grow at faster rate. Datuk Seri Wong, who is also the State Minister of International Trade and e-Commerce, said the government and private sector could work together to establish the DFTZ.

Grab seeks excise duty rebate for Malaysian-made cars
Grab hopes Malaysia’s Budget 2018 will include excise duty rebates for locally-made cars used in public transportation, as more-affordable vehicles will allow Malaysians to consider driving for ride-hailing services to supplement their income. Grab Malaysia country head Sean Goh said excise-duty rebates for Malaysian-made cars will also support the local automotive industry.

Singapore to stop car population growth next year
Singapore will no longer allow growth in its car population from February, citing the city-state’s land scarcity and billions of dollars in planned public transport investments. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it was cutting the permissible vehicle growth rate in the city-state to 0% from the current 0.25% per annum for cars and motorcycles. The rate will be reviewed in 2020. The LTA said currently 12% of Singapore’s total land area is taken up by roads. “In view of land constraints and competing needs, there is limited scope for further expansion of the road network,” it said. Singapore, whose total population has risen nearly 40% since 2000 to about 5.6 million now, counted more than 600,000 private and rental cars on its roads as of last year. A mid-range car in Singapore can typically cost four times the price in the United States.

Singtel, DBS attract record number of firms in third annual 99% SME Shopping Week
Singtel and DBS today gave small and medium enterprises (SMEs) another boost by kicking off Singapore’s only annual shopping event to rally support for SMEs’ businesses. The third edition of the 99% SME Shopping Week drew a record number of participants of more than 5,500 SMEs, more than doubling last year’s number of 2,600. The ten-day event allows consumers in Singapore to enjoy fabulous in-store and online offers and discounts. “The growing interest of SMEs to embrace digitalisation reflects the importance of transforming brick and mortar enterprises as traditional businesses face the risk of getting disrupted by innovative technologies,” said Mr Andrew Lim, Managing Director, Business Group, Group Enterprise at Singtel. “This unique event helps to connect SMEs across Singapore so that collectively, we help them to achieve a higher level of consumer awareness and visibility. “

Singapore bags 6 clean energy investments, creating 400 professional jobs
A wave of clean energy investments in Singapore is set to create 400 professional jobs and generate S$500 million in business spending over the next five years. The Economic Development Board (EDB) said six clean energy investments across the fields of solar, wind, microgrids and energy management in Singapore were secured by EDB in recent months, helping Singapore in its bid to be positioned as Asia’s leading clean technology (cleantech) hub. Speaking on the growth potential of Singapore’s clean energy sector, Mr Goh Chee Kiong, EDB’s executive director of cleantech, said: “The future is bright for clean energy and we want to develop this as a national opportunity for Singapore.”

Hong Kong buyers make beeline for London assets, lured by stable rent, rule of law, cheap money
Stable rental income, the rule of law and cheaper money are the drivers of Hong Kong’s continuous demand in the London real estate, says Hong Kong-based Tenacity, which recently bought a property in the city for £271.4 million. While some investors have pulled back from the UK property market following the Brexit referendum last year, the company is confident in the long-term outlook of London. “The uncertainties arising from Brexit will probably last for two to four years, but we eye on long-term prospect,” said Patrick Wong Tsu-an, chief executive of Tenacity. In the first six months of 2017, Chinese investors spent a combined £3.96 billion on London commercial property, according to international property consultant CBRE.