Archive for the ‘Consumerism’ Category

SPAD, JASA, JKKKP dissolved

Thursday, May 24th, 2018
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad addresses the media after chairing the first cabinet meeting at Perdana Putra, Putrajaya. Present also are Deputy Prime Minister Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng. NSTP/AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today announced that the National Council of Professors, the Special Affairs Department (JASA), the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) as well as the Federal Village Development and Security Committee (JKKKP) will all be dissolved.

On the dissolution of the National Council of Professors, Dr Mahathir said he found that it had been riddled with too many political elements which led to it being abused by the previous administration.

“It started as a body which we use to gain knowledge from academicians. But of late, it has many political elements, so we do not want a repeat of this practice.

“On whether another (agency or council) will be formed, we don’t know yet,” he said.

On the dissolution of SPAD, Dr Mahathir said the commission’s functions would be taken over by the Transport Ministry.

JASA and JKKP, he said, would be dissolved due to political elements.

“JKKP will be dissolved because of political elements, not because of its administration. We have civil servants who can perform these roles. We will also not be paying any compensation to the JKKP as we do not want to continue the political practices of the previous administration,” he said.

By NSTP Team

Reports by Azura Abas, Manirajan Ramsamy, Mohd Husni Mohd Noor and Hazwan Faisal Mohamad.

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Consumer body – apply spirit in consumerism

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Consumers in the state should take a cue from the recently-concluded 14th general election, and muster the same spirit of unity and courage towards developing a stronger consumerism spirit, said Consumers Front of Sabah (CFOS).

“We Malaysians have shown our power as voters; that’s exactly how we as consumers should unite and show our ‘power’. If we adopt the same attitude and put the same effort on consumerism, we can be as powerful as consumers,” said CFOS secretary-general Hashima Hasbullah Yahya alluding to countries like United Kingdom and Sutralia, where governments take consumerism issues seriously.

She noted from her experiences in dealing with consumer issues that consumers in the state were meek and disunited, often allowing albeit unwittingly the unscrupulous traders to get away.

“And that’s especially frustrating for us in CFOS who have been working hard to gather the necessary evidences to act against the traders in question as, the complainants fear that there will be repercussion and were unwilling to proceed to the next course of action,” she lamented.

She said in a statement here while welcoming the recent announcement by the Finance Ministry that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be reduced from 6% to 0% beginning next month.

GST, introduced three years ago, has been blamed for the rising cost of living, and is speculated to be one of the factors that contributed to the defeat of the Barisan Nasional government. It raised about RM45billion in 2017.

“CFOS believe by this adjustment, it will effectively lower prices of goods and services. In our opinion, it may take between 6 months to 1 year to see the positive effect of the adjustment.

“CFOS urges consumers to be more attentive of the prices of goods and services from now onwards. Please take a snapshot of all the displayed price tags of goods displayed at all the shopping malls, supermarkets, retail outlets, restaurants, and hawkers centres that we frequently patronized, for record, so that we can later compare the prices and act accordingly, after the new ruling on GST comes into force on June 1.”


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Zero-rated GST to boost buying sentiment

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: Zero-rated goods and services tax (GST) can help boost buying sentiment among consumers, as economists view that prices of products and services will be decreasing starting June 1, 2018.

Putra Business School Manager of Entrepreneurship and Community Development and Impact senior lecturer Dr Ahmed Razman Abdul Latiff said prices of goods and services might go down further since businesses no longer have to incur compliance costs in term of hiring consultants and training staff to do the GST filing especially among the small and medium enterprises.

“However, more importantly is to ensure that the enforcement agencies are continuously monitoring the prices of products and services to avoid businesses profiteering from this situation,” he told NSTP Group yesterday.

MIDF Amanah Investment Bank chief economist Dr Kamaruddin Mohd Nor said zero-rated GST will help improve consumers’ purchasing power.

“Yes it will boost consumer sentiment and is positive to the domestic economy,” he said.

However, on decreasing prices of goods and services, Dr Kamaruddin said it will depend on various factors including cost structure, input factors, foreign exchange rate, and other variable costs.

“Thus, the confluence of these factors will determine the price of the item,” he said.

On macroeconomic impact, Maybank Investment Bank (IB) Research said based on this year’s GST revenue expectation of RM43.8 billion, the zero-rated GST implies GST revenue shortfall of RM25.6 billion on a simple pro-rated basis, equivalent to 1.8 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) deterioration in budget deficit, which is targeted to be at 2.8 per cent of GDP this year under Budget 2018.

Maybank IB said the mitigating factor is the upside to Budget 2018’s oil-related revenue forecast of RM37.7 billion amid rising crude oil price.

To note, Budget 2018’s crude oil price assumption is US$52 per barrel against against year-to-date average of US$69 per barrel.

“Our sensitivity analysis is that every US$10 per barrel rise in annual average crude oil price will boost oil-related revenue by RM7 billion to RM8 billion.

“Further mitigation should come with the eventual reintroduction of the Sales and Services Taxes (SST) which previously earned the government RM17.2 billion on a full year basis.


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Maintain records post-abolition of GST, companies told

Sunday, May 20th, 2018
Abdul Rahman Seyed Ahmad, arranges his goods after posting a notice to inform his customers on the new zero-rated GST policy. Bernama pic.

KUALA LUMPUR: Companies should continue to maintain records post-abolition of Goods and Services Tax (GST), as tax audits can be expected upon deregistration, which may take place up to seven years from the time of supply, said Ernst & Young Advisory Services Sdn Bhd (E&Y)

Though the GST has been zero-rated, its rules and obligations continue to apply, including the filing of returns, issuance of tax invoices, claiming of input tax credits (where applicable) and bad debt adjustments, it said.

“Businesses need to understand the impact of zero-rating on pricing and the tax system, among others,” said E&Y Asean Tax Managing Partner, Yeo Eng Ping in a statement.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has issued an order for the GST to be zero-rated from June 1, 2018, to be followed by the reintroduction of the Sales and Service Tax (SST).

The transition from GST to SST would require careful management, E&Y said, adding that organisations need to deploy sufficient focus and resources to ensure a smooth transition.

“We also anticipate refinements of tax incentives to encourage the right investments in Malaysia which can spur the country’s transformation into the new economy.

“It is hoped that the introduction of the new SST will be done in a manner that is sensitive to business operations and mindful of resource and costs associated with change,” said Yeo


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BNM expects prices of goods, services to decline after GST reduction

Saturday, May 19th, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) expects the price of goods and services to decline following the new government‘s announcement to reduce the Goods and Services Tax to zero per cent on June 1, 2018.

Governor Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim said it was important for the relevant authorities to ensure that businesses pass the benefit to the public at large.

“Most likely than not it will have an impact on the inflation but it is too early for us to calculate (the inflation rate) right now.

“The inflation rate for the first quarter is set at between two and three per cent, but with the information coming in, we will look at it again.

“If need be, we will revise the rate,” he reporters after announcing the first-quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures here on Thursday.

As for the monetary policy, he said BNM would always look at the inflation rate based on its substantiality.

On the monetary policy impact on GDP, he said BNM would wait for the initiatives which are being discussed by the Team of Eminent Persons to assess whether there is a need to change the forecast of 5.6 per cent to six per cent this year and would announce it together with the Ministry of Finance.

Muhammad said the central bank would also assess the sources of stress on fiscal deficit and the implications of various initiatives after they were announced and would adjust the monetary policy accordingly.

“As far as the monetary policy is concerned, it would always be accommodative to growth trajectory and price stability and would not ignore the fiscal side,” he said.

He noted that the ringgit remained stable despite the recent change in government, and moving forward, it was expected to continue reflecting the economic fundamentals.

“There will be a lot of noises in the short term that would affect the ringgit but in medium and long term, the ringgit would adjust to reflect the economic fundamentals,” he added.

BNM however would provide the necessary liquidity to the market if there is a spike in the currency market. The whole purpose of intervention, he said, was to make sure the market would adjust to the market in a smooth manner.

The ringgit had moved to below RM4 against US dollar from above RM4 a year ago, showing it was tracking the economic fundamentals, he said.


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For inclusive and sustainable growth

Friday, May 11th, 2018
NEW YORK 01 OCTOBER 2016. United Nations building ion New York city, USA. NSTP

ASIA and the Pacific remains the engine of the global economy. It continues to power trade, investment and jobs the world over. Two thirds of the region’s economies grew faster in 2017 than the previous year and the trend is expected to continue in 2018.

The region’s challenge is now to ensure this growth is robust, sustainable and mobilised to provide more financing for development. It is certainly an opportunity to accelerate progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Recent figures estimate economic growth across the region at 5.8 per cent in 2017 compared with 5.4 per cent in 2016. This reflects growing dynamism amid relatively favourable global economic conditions, underpinned by a revival of demand and steady inflation.

Robust domestic consumption and recovering investment and trade all contributed to the 2017 growth trajectory and underpin a stable outlook.

Risks and challenges nevertheless remain. Rising private and corporate debt, particularly in China and countries in South-East Asia, low or declining foreign exchange reserves in a few South Asian economies, and trends in oil prices are among the chief concerns.

Policy simulation for 18 countries suggests a US$10 rise in the price of oil per barrel could dampen GDP growth by 0.14 to 0.4 per cent, widen external current account deficits by 0.5-to 1.0 percentage points and build inflationary pressures in oil-importing economies. Oil exporters, however, would see a positive impact.

These challenges come against the backdrop of looming trade protectionism. Inward-looking trade policies will create uncertainty and would entail widespread risks to region’s export and their backbone industries and labour markets.

While prospects for the least developed countries in the region are close to seven per cent, concerns persist given their inherent vulnerabilities to terms-of-trade shocks or exposure to natural disasters.

The key questions are how we can collectively take advantage of the solid pace of economic expansion to facilitate and improve the long-term prospects of economies and mobilise finance for development as well as whether multilateral institutions, such as the World Trade Organization membership can resolve the global gridlock on international trade.

Economic and financial stability along with liberal trade access to international markets will be critical for effective pursuit of the 2030 Agenda. Regional economies, whose tax potential remains untapped, now need to lift domestic resource mobilisation and prudently manage fiscal affairs. Unleashing their financial resource potential need to be accompanied by renewed efforts to leverage private capital and deploy innovative financing mechanisms.

The investment requirements to make economies resilient, inclusive and sustainable are sizeable − as high as US$2.5 trillion per year on average for all developing countries worldwide. In the Asia-Pacific region, investment requirements are also substantial but so are potential resources.

The combined value of international reserves, market capitalisation of listed companies and assets held by financial institutions, insurance companies and various funds is estimated at some US$56 trillion (RM223.2 trillion). Effectively channelling these resources to finance sustainable development is a key challenge for the region.

The need to come up with supplementary financial resources will remain. Public finances are frequently undermined by a narrow tax base, distorted taxation structures, weak tax administrations, and ineffective public expenditure management. This has created problems of balanced fiscalisation of sustainable development, even if the national planning organisations have embraced and integrated sustainable development agenda in their forward looking plans.

Despite a vibrant business sector, the lack of enabling policies, legal and regulatory frameworks, and large informal sectors, have deterred sustainability and its appropriate financing. The external assistance from which some countries benefit is insufficient to meet sustainable development investment requirements, a problem often compounded by low inbound foreign direct investment.

Capital markets in many countries are underdeveloped and bond markets are still in their infancy. Fiscal pre-emption of banking resources is quite common. For those emerging countries which have successfully tapped international capital markets, a tightening of global financial conditions means borrowing costs are on the rise.

Our Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) flagship report, Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2018 which has been launched calls for stronger political will and governments strengthening tax administrations and expanding the tax base. If the quality of the tax policy and administrations in Asia-Pacific economies matches developed economies, the incremental revenue impact could be as high as three to four per cent of GDP in major economies such as China, India and Indonesia and steeper in developing countries.

Broadening the tax base by rationalising tax incentives for foreign direct investment and introducing a carbon tax could generate almost US$60 billion in additional tax revenue per year.

But government action must be complemented by the private sector to effectively pursue sustainable development. The right policy environment could encourage private investment by institutional investors in long-term infrastructure projects.


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Consumer power against unfair labour practices

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

WORKERS are generally exposed to numerous risks since every single activity, including basic day-to-day tasks, has some level of exposure. But those who are forced into certain labour practices, including child labour, are more vulnerable.

Alarmingly, individuals between 15 and 24 years of age constitute 15% of the global labour force of 541 million young workers, according to the International Labour Organization’s statistics. Of this, 37 million youths aged between 15 and 17 are involved in hazardous labour activities.

In Malaysia, strict laws and regulations prohibit exploitation of the under-aged. These laws are supported by mandates on minimum wages as well as working hours, among others.

As individuals, we too can and must strive to combat exploitation of labour in any form, and we can do this through responsible consumerism.

To do this, we need to know the realities that go into putting together goods and services for mass consumption. Such knowledge will drive ethical decision-making, where we buy goods and services that are manufactured with innovative processes that minimise the use of natural resources and wastage and responsible business practices. This includes strict policies to uphold employee wellbeing, including eliminating abuses such as cheap labour.

Promoting sustainable consumerism entails an end-to-end awareness of activities taking place across the value chain of a business.

This heightened level of scrutiny among consumers will compel businesses and service providers to be more transparent with their activities.

Consumer leadership will also redefine the operational landscape for businesses by paving the way for socially responsible practices.

We can and must play a significant role because lives matter. Regulators are doing a great job, and many businesses are too. It is time we as consumers do our part.

by MRS T
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Benefits of going cashless

Thursday, April 5th, 2018
(File pix) The main advantage of digital payment is that one can do the transaction at any time of the day and from any place. Archive image for illustration purposes only

THERE is much talk about going cashless these days. Is Malaysia ready to go cashless?

Given the increase in the number of snatch thieves and convenient stores being robbed, yes, perhaps it is time for Malaysia to go cashless or use electronic payment systems, such as credit/debit cards, smartphones or Touch & Go cards. But, on a serious note, what would it mean, going cashless?

Changing to “cashless” would be good for our country, soon to be developed with a high-income status. It is more efficient and cost-effective because we no longer need to handle physical money or go to the bank to deposit or withdraw money. All transactions are to be done online or virtually.

Cashless initiatives are also in line with the Financial Sector Blueprint launched by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). According to the blueprint, for the next 10 years, BNM targets to increase the number of per capita e-payment transactions from 44 transactions to 200 transactions.

But, does emphasising online transactions provide significant benefits or just add stress and extra charges? What are the advantages of going cashless? For the government, the cashless society makes tracking and collection of taxes easier and committing fraud harder. Cash payments can be made invisible, but for every cashless transaction, there is a digital footprint.

We can get rid of wallets or purses to carry that wad of cash. We can also enjoy the convenience of digital transactions using credit cards, debit cards, mobile wallets and other online payment systems. Digital and cashless transactions have also paved the way for e-commerce where one can shop online from the comfort of home.

According to BNM, the main advantage of a digital payment system is that one will have the freedom to do the transaction at any time of the day and from any location.

There are so many mobile wallet operators today such as MOL (Money Online), AliPay, and MyPay that we are spoilt for choice. Many e-commerce sites, too, offer special discounts to consumers who make online payments.

Another advantage is when travelling abroad. Imagine a situation where you are abroad and you have just been robbed of all your cash and other belongings. You are now stranded with no money. What do you do? Well, of course, the first thing is to go to the nearest police station and report the theft. Next, if you are debit or credit card holder, you have to call your bank and tell them to do the necessary. And, most credit card companies will provide you with a new card almost immediately.

Hence, it can be said that going cashless provides lots of benefits and is convenient. Of course, there is the risk of spending more than what you have. Actually, cash helps us curb our spending. Other disadvantages are an increased risk of identity theft, phishing traps, online frauds and account hacking — all these will naturally rise as we grow towards digitization.


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Not right fish and expensive greens

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Whether due to overfishing or even theft of marine resources by foreign fishermen active in our waters as alleged by industry sources, one thing is clear – seafood is not as abundantly available as before.

Even if available, they are not the ones sought after during Chinese New Year.

On the other hand, some vegetables have to be discarded because their higher prices have resulted in weakened demand.

A Daily Express random check on fish markets in the State found that most Chinese families may be forced to settle for smaller and cheaper fish for their traditional New Year’s eve dinner compared to previous years.

The higher cost of certain types of fish favoured for this festive occasion is forcing many to opt for cheaper ones.

Fish monger Alex Soo, in Tawau, said his regular customers are buying snappers and pomfrets which are less expensive than types they usually prefer (pic above).

“I do sell the big ones but not many customers are buying because the price has increased.

They choose the smaller ones including prawns,” he said.

The 27-year-old, who took over his mother’s business three years ago, confirmed that fish from his suppliers is more expensive this time around.

There was adequate supply of normal seafood in the KK markets, but traditional species such as White (and black) pomfret were again not in sight this year.

According to a fishmonger who wanted to be identified as Zan, there was more supply compared to last week.

“Thus prices for popular staple food fishes including ikan basung and tulai have dropped slightly and there was no shortage of supply.

Another fishmonger, Roza, agreed saying supply had increased this week leading to slightly cheaper prices but not for those sought after.

“We get our supply from the local fishing boats. If the weather is good then they will be able to catch more fish for the markets,” she said.

A prawn seller said there was enough supply of paper and white prawns in the market and the prices have varied little. However larger sized tiger prawns popularly served at Chinese New year celebrations in the past were unavailable.

“Tommorow (Wednesday) is when we will receive the last shipment of seafood including prawns prior to Chinese New year celebrations, she said.

Vegetable seller, Mama Ella, 51, who operates at Sin On market, also in Tawau, said customer traffic has been less ever since the prices of some basic items increased.

“When I first started doing business there used to be a lot of customers coming here (including during off peak hours) but it’s not the case now. I often have to throw away unsold vegetables at the end of the day,” she said.

Even lately she has been having difficulty in selling her vegetables. “By the end of the day, I would find my table still full,” said Mama Ella, who has been selling for 14 years.

She blamed the Good and Services Tax (GST) for customers holding back on purchases.

“There’s always plenty of supply of vegetables or fruits but less people are buying these days.

So, I don’t dare to take a lot (from suppliers),” she added.

She admitted that she, too, had withheld buying for the Chinese New Year as she wants to be careful with her hard-earned money.

“One thing for sure, I’ll be celebrating it in a modest scale this year. The economy is not good,” she lamented.

Another vegetable seller, Wit Nyuk Oi, said demand for “sang choi” and salads which are favoured during CNY has not been as good as it used to be in previous years.

According to the 51-year-old, the slow economy has changed the spending habit of the people.

A random survey at the Manggatal and Inanam market, in the State Capital, showed vegetables were being bought despite a slight price hike.

“The price depends on the weather condition, good weather means cheaper vegetables, rainy season means costlier vegetables,” said vendor, Lonikah Galim.

She said normally a kilo of kale could cost RM5, while the price of lettuce would be RM8 a kilo, but again it depends on the weather.

“Getting our supply is not that difficult provided you order early especially during festive season when vegetables is in high demand,” she added.

“If the weather conditions turn bad, then not only consumers, but we as vendors would also have to spend extra,” she said.

Another vendor, Julia Junaidi, said the prices may go slightly up during the festive season due to the unpredictable weather condition. She said people still continue to buy because the prices is still reasonable.

She said prices for vegetables like lettuce, broccoli, shallots, and leafy greens for salads would usually go up during Chinese New Year.

“Broccoli is usually sold at RM10 per kilo, but during festive seasons it can go up to RM16 or RM18 a kilo,” she said.

She said the prices can go up by RM2 or RM3 depending on the weather conditions.

A survey at a grocery shop in Kolombong showed that the price of Baby Kailan is RM7 a kilo, while Pak Choi Taiwan from Ranau – a type of Chinese cabbage is sold at RM5.80 a kilo.

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Bringing down cost of houses

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

State govt to come up with its own housing model to help more Sarawakians own houses

Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, Chief Minister (File Photo)

KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg says the prices of houses in the state are extremely high and out of reach of most house buyers.

He pointed out that a semi-detached house may cost about RM600,000 while in premium locations the prices can go up to a RM1 million.

To help more Sarawakians own houses, Abang Johari said the state will design its own brand of housing model within six months with cost of houses that are within reach of house buyers.

“I have a strategy, to have our own brand and with the cooperation of developers we will provide housing at a price of RM250,000 to RM300,000 per unit.

“With that cap, people are able to buy reasonably-priced houses. Perhaps, for the so-called low cost, let the government do them while private developers must provide the medium houses as well as higher end houses,” he said at the launch of Borneo Housing Mortgage Finance Bhd’s new Islamic financing products here yesterday.

“At this stage we are negotiating with developers our plan of having our own brand of housing model.

“We cannot rely on the brand from Kuala Lumpur. We want to have our own product and we want to have our own brand,” he added.

He noted that the move to introduce the state’s own brand of housing models is in line with the government’s initiatives to improve the transport system including the light rail train (LRT) project.

“We are going to embark on a transit oriented development (TOD) programme and having this development principle in place, we may be able to open up our new green areas to build affordable housing.”

He said with good public transport system the state could build new housing settlements, which are near to LRT stations so the people could use the train to go to the city centre.

“And within the new settlements, developers can build houses that cost within the range of RM250,000 to RM300,000 per unit with the space of about 1,000 sq ft and  three rooms.

by Rintos Mail,

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