Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year, 2014

Wishing everyone "Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year, 2014"


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Asean investment destination survey

Malaysia ranks high as a destination for investments in the Asean region, the latest survey by the Asean Business Advisory Council (Asean-BAC) shows.

Singapore is ranked the most attractive destination for investment with 45 per cent of survey respondents saying they have plans to invest into the nation, followed by Malaysia (42 per cent), Indonesia (41 per cent) and Thailand (41 per cent). Brunei emerged the least attractive destination for investments, said the survey.

The 2013 Asean-BAC Survey on Asean Competitiveness tracks business sentiments towards the attractiveness of Asean to trade and investments over a three-year horizon and their perception of Asean’s efforts to realise an Asean Economic Community (AEC) by the end of 2015. It was conducted across Asean between May and August 2013.

Respondents included businesses that participated in the previous two waves of the survey, past nominees of Asean-BAC’s Asean Business Awards, as well as businesses that had been identified by Asean-BAC council members and Secretariat, national business organisations and local research assistants.

In the survey, businessmen said Asean’s potential as a new or growing market for future investments is the region’s main draw for investors. Asean-BAC said that the result was in line with the views of respondents in the Economist Corporate Network report, which picked economic growth rates, and size and spending power of consumer population as the two most attractive features for investing in Asean.

The survey also revealed that 52 per cent of respondents said they would invest or expand investments in the region to supply main or leading customers, while 31 per cent said they would do so because of access low-cost production facilities.

Asean-BAC said observations were consistent across all firm sizes and were consistent with responses in the 2010 survey, the last time the question was asked.

Twenty per cent of those surveyed said that access to natural resources was a reason to invest in the region, while 18 per cent pointed to closeness of research and development and innovation.

Source: theSTAR 13-12-2013

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Towards an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC): 2015

Asean began as a political group 52 years ago. It has evolved since then, embracing the 3 pillars today (1) political-security (2) economic and (3) social-cultural.

Learning from the 1997/98 financial crisis, it highlighted the necessity for closer economic collaboration to protect mutual national interests. This is reinforced by the recent rise of China and India, strengthening Asean’s determination to create a stronger and more cohesive community.

The 1997 Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur brought this into sharper focus with the Asean 2020 Vision Declaration to transform the region into a stable, integrated and competitive region.

In 2003, the Bali Summit committed the group to accelerate the establishment of the AEC from 2020 to 2015. Since then, the 2007 AEC Blueprint sets out clear timelines for Asean members to strive towards an integrated economic community by 2015 with: (1) a single market and production base (2) a competitive economic region (3) an equitable and inclusive economic development and (4) a region integrated into the global economy.

This will finally revolve around (1) a core Asean centre (2) an inclusive Asean (3) an efficient and transparent operational framework (4) harmonised rules and regulations and (5) a strong linkage to the global supply and value chains. These characteristics are inter-related and mutually reinforcing.

At the heart of AEC is the overarching objective to promote the free flow of goods, services, investment and skilled labour; the free flow of capital; and the free and open integration of clearly identified priority sectors as well as in food, agriculture and forestry.

To deepen market integration there are clear commitments to formulate milestones under the Roadmap to Monetary and Financial Integration as well as the "setting-up" of the US$485mil Asean Infrastructure Fund Ltd to facilitate sustained economic growth and address poverty alleviation in the region.

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RM1bil boost: 10 new Healthcare NKEA, EPP3

The Health Ministry has announced 10 new projects under the Healthcare NKEA (National Key Economic Area) with an investment of RM1bil to boost the manufacturing of respiratory products and pharmaceutical drugs along with the supply of renal solutions.

The projects are expected to generate 1,219 job opportunities and contribute RM673.9mil to the Gross National Income (GNI) by 2020, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said.

He said that the ministry had set up a new entry point project (EPP) cluster for renal products in line with its aim to position Malaysia as the regional supplier of products and services for renal solutions.

“The focus will be on the manufacturing of products used for renal replacement therapy such as dialysers, dialysate, filters and solution bags as well as innovative renal replacement therapy services.
“Beyond ensuring potential earnings from exports, this EPP will ensure that quality renal treatment products are accessible to all Malaysians,” he told a press conference yesterday.

Under the Renal Products EPP, another global supplier will manufacture haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis fluids from Negri Sembilan. A local company will offer a home treatment programme while another will invest in a manufacturing facility in Pahang to produce dialysis filters and dialysers.

Dr Subramaniam named four project owners who had come forward with plans to enhance the manufacturing of respiratory products. These included the setting up of three new manufacturing facilities and another to invest more in producing metered dose inhalers from an existing facility in Malacca.

Three foreign companies will also collaborate with local companies under several projects, including a French multinational pharmaceutical company to produce certain patented drugs, a New Zealand company to produce drugs to treat rare diseases and a Saudi Arabian company to set up a vaccine formulations facility in Negri Sembilan.

“The 37 projects we have today under the Healthcare NKEA are expected to bring in a total GNI impact of RM6.43bil by 2020, creating 26,665 jobs and attracting investments of up to RM4.86bil,” Dr Subramaniam said.

Source: theSTAR 13-12-2013

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Peritoneal Dialysis - a viable Treatment Option

In Malaysia, the bulk of chronic and End-Stage-Renal-Disease (ESRD) patients requiring dialysis is driven by Type 2 diabetics. As the number of diabetics increases each year, so does the number of ESRD patients. Chronic kidney disease affects between 9 and 15% of people in West Malaysia, depending on the Study design and disease definition (Kidney Int 2013 Jun 12. doi: 10.1038/ki.2013.220)

As of 2012,  a staggering 28,590 dialysis patients were registered with the National Renal Registry (NRR). Basing on the trend of increase over the last 12 years, the projected number of new dialysis patients is estimated to reach 8,000 per year by 2020.

In 2012, there were 199 new patients on dialysis per million population compared with only 3 undergoing transplant per million population. Transplantation is both expensive and skill intensive. Additionally, the waiting time for a kidney transplant is very long due to the low number of donors.

In Hong Kong, almost 80% of dialysis patients utilise Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) compared to only 8% in Malaysia. The common arguments against PD include the need for a clean room during the exchange, high initial cost and infection.

The reason PD has not taken off in Malaysia is also partly due to the pervasiveness of campaigns publicising haemodialysis (HD) to ESRD patients. However, it is observed that, with the rising cost of manpower and consummables for HD, the best way forward is to increase the use of PD among ESRD patients.

The Ministry of Health, Malaysia  estimated in 2005, that the use of PD would translate into a RM 2000 savings per patient. With increased overhead and management costs and the rise in dialysis patients, this would translate into hefty savings in the long run. Additionally, a local study carried out in the Kuala Lumpur Hospital on patients opting for PD showed that they also stood to save up to 22.7 hours a month on top of savings on transportation.

PD has yet to see widespread use even though it is as effective as HD. Thus the Government is driving PD as a treatment option. PD, compared with HD, also offers patients more freedom, flexibility and mobility.

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Challenges in delivery of Healthcare

The world's population is ageing and the elderly enjoys longer life expectancy. Thus, there is an increasing number of elderly people whose needs and demands differ from the younger generations. The longer life expectancy is due to better provisions of healthcare and technological advancements. At the other end of the spectrum, birth rates are declining. Thus, there is a gap and "an unbalanced age" equation. The replacement numbers do not add up!

Governments, the world over, have the inherent social responsibility to ensure that "every of  their citizens, including the poor and destitute, will have access to medical and healthcare services" ie safety net.
Meanwhile, healthcare costs are escalating rapidly. Thus, inevitably the younger demographic, which are the productive age-group, will be expected to play greater role, towards healthcare financing cost. Thus there is a search for funding mechanisms that will need to meet the social, political and economy of the country.

It is also to be noted that, the demands of the healthcare, with ageing population, will also shift from acute to chronic care which encompass therapeutic to welfare services, wellness, rehabilitative and social support. The "care" component of 'healthcare' will thus become more dominant and will be expected to be embedded in the approach to healthcare policy as we move forward.

The public sector, ie the Government, is typically the largest healthcare provider and will be expected to continue the "de facto" role in healthcare provisions. It also formulates policies and is the guardian, driver and enforcer of the healthcare systems . In short, Government is expected to be responsible for effective universal healthcare coverage of its citizens and ensuring that provisions of technology and services are of quality, safe and effective besides being accessible and affordable.

Moving forward, Governments, the world over, are also introducing new measures to reduce healthcare costs. Policies and programmes like "more generic drugs prescribing" by the medical fraternity, accessibility or sharing of "high-end" diagnostic machines in the private sector to Government hospitals' personnel (and vis-à-vis) and "consumer health and wellness  empowerment" through education are just three examples.

The practice of inclusive partnership and collaboration between the Public and Private sectors, including the insurance fraternity and community, in managing and controlling healthcare costs seem to be the best way forward for Governments. Meanwhile, the search for ideal mechanism for effective healthcare financing in each geography continues ...

Percentage (%) of Government vs Private share of Healthcare Funding (2010):

Vietnam:  37.1 vs  62.9
Thailand:  75 vs  25
Singapore:  31.4 vs  68.6
Philippines:  36.1 vs  63.9
Myanmar:  12.1 vs  87.9
Malaysia:  55.5 vs 44.5
Laos:  46.5 vs  53.5
Indonesia:  36.1 vs  63.9
Cambodia:  21.5 vs  78.5
Brunei:  86.5 vs  13.5
Source: WHO Health Statistics 2013

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Malaysia’s economy to expand 5.3% next year: Standard Chartered bank

Malaysia's economy is expected to expand 5.3% next year from an estimated 4.7% this year, Standard Chartered said today. External demand is expected to pick up next year, mitigating the expected slowdown in domestic demand.Private consumption may moderate next year due to higher inflation, subsidy cuts and high household leverage, said Standard Chartered in its 2014 global focus on "Rising East, Emerging West" report.

Its growth forecast was in line with the government's projection of 5.0-5.5% gross domestic product (GDP) growth for next year. "GDP growth was 4.5% in nine months of 2013 and appears to be on track to meet our full-year forecast of 4.7%," the bank said.

The report said Malaysia's labour market will remain healthy, supporting wage growth and consumption, while the manufacturing sector is likely to strengthen, thanks to the pick-up in external demand. "This should support wage growth in the sector, which accounts for about 17% of total employment and which saw a wage increase of about 7.6% in nine months of this year, despite a softness in manufacturing," said Standard Chartered.

Domestic factors are likely to be more supportive of the ringgit next year, the bank said. However, the local unit is expected to underperform in the first half of next year due to heavy bond inflows in recent years. "This is largely based on our view that the US Federal Reserve will start quantitative easing tapering in June next year. "We expect the ringgit to rally in the second half of next year once tapering is fully priced in and against a backdrop of continued Chinese yuan appreciation," the bank said.

Net external demand is expected to continue to improve in 2014 after subtracting an average 3.5 percentage point from quarterly year-on-year GDP growth between the first quarter of last year and third quarter of this year. The contribution from net external demand is likely to be flat next year while exports are expected to rise and imports may keep pace.

Headline consumer price index inflation should rise to 3.4% in 2014 from a projected 2.1% in 2013, slightly higher than the government's 2.0 to 3.0%, Standard Chartered said. The bank added that fuel price hikes in September 2013 would continue to add to year-on-year inflation readings until September 2014.

"We also expect the government to gradually lower subsidies throughout the year although the exact timing of the cuts is difficult to predict."

Malaysia's credit rating will remain stable next year, as the ratings agencies are looking for further subsidy rationalisation.

The healthy labour market will also add to inflation pressures, as businesses may find it easier to pass on cost increases. "Even with inflation likely to trend higher next year, we think Bank Negara Malaysia may refrain from raising policy rates until a firm growth trend is established. "The central bank may wait until demand-pull inflation emerges and starts to add to supply-driven inflation-driven by subsidy cuts," Standard Chartered said.

Improving external demand should support the current account, the bank added.
Source: Bernama 04-12-2013

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Changing of Guards

Frankly, I do not envy leaders of today. There are so many challenges confronting the competitive eco-system that they compete in. Today, successful leaders have to be very knowledgeable and also very "multi-skilled" and hence "multi-tasked".

Having to "multi-skill" means they have to be hungry to new learning and skills. In other words, they have to be able to perform and have further capacity, energy and time to acquire relevant knowledge and skills. They must always be ahead of the pack if they are to be successful in market dominance.

With the advent of new technology, comes high expectations. Customers demand quality products and services with speedy and accurate, error-free, deliveries. Products are more sophisticated and technologically designed and precise. There is also time contraction as technology utilisation speeds up processes and deliveries along the value supply chain. Business is now "customer centric" and demands high ...

Stress level increases as well. More leaders are harnessing technology resulting in more productivity, efficiency with more manageable and predictable outcomes.

Out of the complexities of these demands and operations, there is an important component that will always remain consistent since the agriculture age to the present ie the human factor.

Today, leaders must invest, build and nurture knowledgeable. There is a challenge for skill human capital for business sustainability. New leaders must be able to manage and steer the changing eco-system with changing demographic population, dwindling resources and rapid technology advancements.

Currently, many "baby boomers" are still on top of the management pyramid, and undeniably, the new generations are expected to replace more of the "baby boomers". To ensure seamless and successful transition into leadership roles, large organisations had taken the initiatives to understand and have programs that meet the behaviour and training needs of the new generations ie Generation X and Y ... not too far away will be millennial babies.

Leaders belonging  to the "baby boomers" era must realise that the mentality and behaviour of the new Generations need to be addressed differently. Thus, "old" leadership style must change or modified accordingly. It must be less of "brick and mortar" but more space, empowerment, knowledge and technology driven leadership.

There are also differences in cultural behaviours between the Gen X and Y. Leaders must be sensitive and learn to hire, manage, lead and integrate them accordingly.

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Ringgit's Performance: Mixed Fortune

While the exodus by the hedge fund managers since May, spooked by the US Federal Reserve tapering talks, the US dollar has pulled the rug from under most Asian currencies.
At 3.224 to the US dollar last Friday, 29th November 2013, the ringgit was down 6% from its peak in May, or 2.9% since the start of the year.

Other regional currencies were hit harder. A quick check on the foreign exchange rates revealed that holiday makers can get better value for the ringgit if they are going for a vacation Down Under, as the Australian dollar had fallen 7.7% against the  ringgit since January.

For a bargain vacation closer to home, a shopping trip to Bandung, Indonesia offers the best value following the12.9% slump in the rupiah against the ringgit this year. India, too, is an interesting travel destination given the sharp decline in the rupee.
According to the forex research team at Maybank Singapore, the key risk for the ringgit and other Asian currencies next year, is the anticipated reduction of the US Federal Reserve bond-buying programme. This could happen in the first quarter of 2014.
The forex team at Maybank expects the ringgit to fall to a low of 3.27 against the US dollar early next
year, but sees the currency climbing to 3.12 by the end of the year.
“Barring no policy slippages and little deterioration, we are bullish on the currency for next year,” head of  forex research at Maybank in Singapore Saktiandi Supaat said in his note to clients. The volatility in the currency market in 2014 would continue to be driven by the developed markets. 
The bank continues to be bearish on the rupiah, given the twin deficit concerns and the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in Indonesia in 2014. The rupiah last week fell below the 12,000-level against the US dollar for the first time since March 2009. Supaat and his team believed there could be downside risk for the rupiah in the short-term, but expected the currency to recover to 11,900 by the end of next year.
Supaat and his team also expected the Australian dollar to remain weak, at least in the early part of
2014, with the Reserve Bank of Australia sending out clear messages in recent months that it preferred the Australian dollar to remain soft.
Source: theSTAR 02-12-2013

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Malaysia: MEF sees lower pay-rise raise-2014

The salary increment for next year is forecasted to be lower than the average increase this year due to economical "uncertainties" especially in the export sector.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) revealed in its salary survey report that the average forecasted salary increase for 2014 is 5.63% for executives and 5.65% for non-executives. "This is lower than the actual average salary increase of 6.31% this year for executives. The forecasted average for non-executives is also lower at 5.65% compared to the actual average salary increase of 6.78% this year,"

MEF president Tan Sri Azman Shah Haron told a press conference today. "There are a lot of uncertainties out there. Malaysia is a major exporter to developed countries and these countries are not doing very well. That is why it would be difficult for companies to set a high fixed increment,"  based on the findings from 257 member companies.

He said the average salary increase this year for executives is slightly higher at 6.31% as compared to 6.29% in 2012. Similarly for non-executives, the average salary increase of 6.68% this year is higher than the 5.83% recorded last year.

The forecasted bonus for executives in 2014 is 2.21 months, which is slightly lower than the 2.26 months of actual bonus granted this year. However, the forecasted average bonus for non-executives for 2014 is 2.13 months, which is higher than the 2.05 months of actual average bonus given in 2013.

"Sixty-seven per cent of participating companies granted bonus to all executives in 2013, which is lower than the 71.7% in 2012. In the case of non-executives, 69.5% of the participating companies granted bonus to all of them in 2013, which was also lower compared to 73.4% in 2012," Azman said.
Source:theSundaily 27-11-2013

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A quick fix to medical disputes

Patients and doctors can soon resolve their grievances without going to court.

A mediation bureau is being set up by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) and the Medico-Legal Society of Malaysia (MLSM) to look into the increasing number of medical disputes in the country and settle cases out of court.

“Although the bureau does not have any legal regulatory powers, it will be a faster and cheaper alternative for parties seeking an amicable solution to their medical dispute,” said Datuk Dr N.K.S. Tharmaseelan, president of both MMA and MLSM which represent more than 15,000 doctors and specialists. The bureau, to be operational by Dec 1, will have a panel made up of legal advisers and healthcare experts. Those seeking redress will be charged a small administrative fee of about RM100.

Dr Tharmaseelan said the recent large court awards encouraged patients to sue, resulting in some doctors giving up practice. He said doctors can be made liable for everything from advising patients to failing to warn of risks associated with a recommended treatment to breaching the duty of care.

“Practising medicine now is like walking a tight rope over shark-infested waters. A doctor can even be liable even if a nurse wrongly counts the gauze during surgery,” he said.

According to Medical Defence Malaysia (MDM), a local court had awarded RM5.4mil to a brain-damaged child in 2011. With the interest calculated from the date of the injury, the amount due was about RM7.4mil.

MDM board member Dr Milton Lum said that based on the increase in indemnity subscriptions, there “seems to be an increase” in the number of litigations against doctors. “The amended Medical Act, which received royal assent last year, requires all doctors to have indemnity coverage as a condition for renewal of their annual practising certificate.

“However, the amended Medical Act has yet to be enforced,” he said, adding that Health Ministry data showed an increase from 29 to 56 cases (against doctors) from 2006 to 2011. There is no data for the private sector.
Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations Malaysia president Dr Steven Chow said the increase in medical litigation is real and imminent. He said higher patient expectation and doctor-patient communication breakdown have given rise to medical negligence cases. “Otherwise, the practice of defensive medicine will escalate and both patient and doctor will lose out,” he said.

Source: the STAR 17-11-2013

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ASEAN: Healthcare Manpower

According to a study by Deloitte, Healthcare 3.0, published recently, the ASEAN region faces a shortage of medical professionals to the magnitude of 1.6 million, which is among the highest in the world.

As a comparison between member nations, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are the region's net exporters of healthcare services as is evident in the strong medical tourism growth. Currently, these countries are also net recipients of skilled healthcare manpower.

Medical professionals are highly mobile. Markets are also becoming more integrated and it is expected that countries will face stiffer competition for healthcare professionals. It is also to be noted that  countries like Malaysia and Singapore are transit countries of foreign nurses seeking further migration to end destination countries which has created gaps in their respective health systems.

ASEAN: Healthcare manpower ratio (2005 - 2012)

1) No of physicians per 10,000 population

Vietnam: 12.2   Thailand: 3.0    Singapore: 19.2   Philippines: 11.5   Myanmar: 5   Malaysia: 12.0   Laos: 1.9   Indonesia: 2.0   Cambodia: 2.3   Brunei: 13.6

2)  No of nursing and midwifery per 10,000 population

Vietnam: 10.1   Thailand: 21.8   Singapore: 63.9    Philippines: 60.0   Myanmar: 8.6   Malaysia: 32.8   Laos: 8.2   Indonesia: 13.8   Cambodia: 7.9   Brunei: 70.2

Source: WHO Health Statistics 2013

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No Profit, No Company

What is "customer-centric'? This was raised when I was participating in a training programme recently. Many junior managers had the impression that "it meant bending all the way backwards in order to satisfy customers' needs!"

I asked "how backwards?" ... the answer "... as back as possible ..."

Hmm ... does it mean that a Company, which has decided to make the customer his centre of universe, or focus, has to absolutely revolve his services, promotions, sales and marketing activities, around his customers? I would, without hesitation agree to this approach provided that ethics and policies of the Company are not breached. Further, the Company must be able to make reasonable healthy profit and growth.

In an example given during the discussion session, it was pointed out that the Company should extend long credit terms to its customers as a means of keeping and retaining the customers as opposed to many Companies which are rigid on its shorter payment term. I was astounded by this simplicity of thinking. Even, if the Company is cash rich and has a healthy cash flow this would be a very poor option.

Company would have to purchase inventories upfront, the inventories got delivered over a certain lead time, on arrival the stocks are stored for a period of 1-2 months before they are purchased and delivered to the customers. The Customers would then be having a credit term of an average of 90 days, as in Malaysia. From the financial perspective, the Company is acting like a banker or financers to the customers as the Company has to make use of his own finance facilities along the supply chain months before he gets paid!

Many managers conveniently overlooked the fact that, a Company exists to make reasonable healthy profit. Companies are not charitable organisations. And thus managers should understand basic financial management in order to add values to their respective organisations and play active roles in ageing accounts as well as accelerating purchase orders from customers, optimal inventory level, stock leakages and procurement etc ... all these define the sustainability of the Company.

Without reasonable healthy profit and cash flow ... it is a matter of time before staff are being retrenched and the Company downsized and exit from the scene!

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Meeting: Who sits around the Table?

I have, and still am, attending many meetings and workshops where I observe that there are different
personalities and interest groups that govern the behaviours and quality outcome of the gatherings.

Assuming that the Agenda and all other meeting requirements are in place, the quality of the outcome of the Meeting would be determined by the knowledge, preparedness, deliveries and articulation skills of the participants, degree of participations, the wisdom and guidance of the Chairperson,

I will broadly classify, according to my definitions, the type of personalities, that are normally present in any Meeting:

1) The Hard headed (or bulldozer): They are vocal and determined that others should listen to them, and agreeing with them. When others speak, they would "jump" in with their views, to interrupt the speaker. Oh, how nasty, demeaning and disrespectful this can be. They are of the opinion that their views are always right or "the best". They would deem others who do not align with them as "not-knowing or wrong". They could also get "personal" with negative emotions locked-in.

2) The Cool and Wise headed: These are people who would speak at the right time and right moment. They would respect the views of others. Their views and articulation would be based on their experience, facts and figures. They would be ready to receive the views of others.

3) The "Experts": Foolishness reigns in the hearts with these self-claimed experts. They share their views vigorously but also, take upon themselves, to reply on behalf of others who were supposed to response to questions posed. They like to be seen as "I know all" and "you listen".

4) The Hearers: These are the spectators who would occasionally smile and nod their heads in agreement. They normally would not have their own views. They are contented to be present and "show" their presence in support. In all likelihood, they would go along with the majority when decisions are to be made.

5) The Mumblers: During coffee-break or after a meeting, these silent spectators, would turn experts and vocal. They could be heard expressing their views among themselves. The views normally expressed would be more destructive than constructive. These are the "interlude or after meeting experts".

6) The Indifference: They would do their own "things" in an on-going meeting. Their minds wander. They would be reading/sending messages from their mobile phones, periodically walking out of the meeting room etc ... or in short, "mindfully absent". Their conscience taken care of as "they were present in the meeting". They are "here to mark their attendance"!

Thus, as a Chairperson to any meeting, the Chair must take cognizant of the different personalities around the discussion table. He or she must make all conscious and intelligent effort to "rope" all into active discussions. This is indeed challenging.

A Chairperson must thus have the relevant experience, skill and knowledge to steer. guide and lead the Meeting according to the Agenda, otherwise, any potential Chair must learnt and acquire same.

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Malaysia: Economy expands by stronger 5% in Q3, 2013

The economy expanded by a stronger 5% in the third quarter of this year from a revised second quarter growth of 4.4% this year, bolstered by domestic demand and a significant turnaround in exports. In announcing the country's economy today, Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz (pic) said domestic demand grew by 8.3%, while exports registered 1.7% growth compared with minus 5.2%.

This positive news is released on the back of increased volatility following uncertainties over the fiscal and monetary policies of the advanced economies, particularly in the United States.

The central bank maintained 4.5-5% projection for 2013.

The headline inflation rate, as measured by the annual change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), was higher at 2.2% in the third quarter from 1.8% growth in the second quarter. She said the increase was mainly attributed to higher inflation in the transport, food and non-alcoholic beverages categories.

On the supply side, growth in most economic sectors improved in the third quarter, she said.
Zeti said the services and manufacturing sectors expanded further, supported by domestic demand and improvements in trade activities. The agriculture sector's growth was also higher, supported mainly by production of food crops, while the moderation in growth of the mining sector reflected the lower production of natural gas and crude oil, she said. Growth was also sustained in the construction sector, driven mainly by the residential sub-sector. Zeti said growth was further supported by the non-residential and civil engineering sub-sectors.

Quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted basis, the economy expanded by 1.7% compared with 1.4% in the previous quarter of the year. Private consumption grew by 8.2% against 7.2% in the previous quarter, supported by sustained employment conditions and wage growth. Meanwhile, public consumption expanded moderately in the third quarter to 7.8% versus 11.8% in the second quarter this year, reflecting mainly lower government spending on supplies and services.

In the external sector, the current account surplus increased to RM9.8 billion in the third quarter, equivalent to 4.1% to gross national income (GNI) from RM2.6 billion or 1.1% of GNI.

The overall balance of payments registered a larger surplus of RM11.8 billion in the third quarter compared with RM1.5 billion in the second quarter of 2013.

At the prevailing level of the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR), Zeti said monetary conditions remained supportive of economic activities.

Going forward, she said, the gradual recovery in the external sector would continue to be supportive of growth for the Malaysian economy. Domestic demand from the private sector would remain supportive of economic activities amid continued consolidation of the public sector, she said.

"The economy is therefore expected to remain on its steady growth trajectory," she said.

She noted that emerging signs of a recovery in the major advanced economies are expected to support overall global growth. "Uncertainties surrounding the fiscal and monetary policy adjustments in these economies, however, may affect market sentiment and overall growth prospects in the global economy. "(While) Global policy spillovers may have some impact on Asia, growth will continue to be underpinned by domestic demand," she added.
Source: Bernama, 15-11-2013

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Ringgit gains most in three weeks

Malaysia’s ringgit climbed the most in almost three weeks before reports forecast to show the nation’s economic growth accelerated and the current-account surplus widened. Government bonds were little changed.   At 9am, the ringgit appreciated against the greenback to 3.1935/1965 from 3.2040/2070 yesterday.

A dealer said the euro was dampened by the weak eurozone data while the Japanese yen slipped after the Finance Minister Taro Aso told a parliamentary committee that Japan must retain the currency intervention as a policy tool.

Against other major currencies, the ringgit was also traded higher.

The local note appreciated against the Singapore dollar to 2.5616/5644 from 2.5683/5712 yesterday and strengthened against the yen to 3.1868/1901 from 3.2255/2102 on Thursday.

Against the British pound, the ringgit emerged stronger to 5.1288/1349 from 5.1360/1424 yesterday and rose to 4.2962/3009 from 4.3107/3157 against the euro.-- Bernama

Gross domestic product increased 4.7 per cent in the third quarter from 4.3 per cent in the previous three months, according to the median estimate of 17 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News before official data due at 6pm local time. The ringgit rose for a second day after Federal Reserve chairman nominee Janet Yellen said yesterday she would maintain the record stimulus that has stoked global asset gains and suppressed borrowing costs until the US economy is stronger.

"Risk appetite for Asian currencies is improving because Yellen’s statement sends a strong signal that tapering will be on the back burner for a while," said Yeah Kim Leng, chief economist at RAM Holdings Bhd in Kuala Lumpur. "The ringgit’s strength will be further supported by the improvement in domestic economic data."

The currency appreciated 0.3 per cent to 3.1951 per dollar as of 9.14am in Kuala Lumpur, the steepest increase since October 28, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

One-month implied volatility, a measure of expected moves in the exchange rate used to price options, fell two basis points, or 0.02 percentage point, to 8.73 per cent. The gauge declined 31 basis points this week.

Malaysia’s current-account surplus widened to RM10.7 billion in the third quarter from RM2.6 billion in the preceding three months, according to the median forecast of analysts polled by Bloomberg News before data due at 6pm local time today.

The yield on the 3.48 per cent bonds due March 2023 was little changed at 3.89 per cent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The rate rose 17 basis points this week.-- Bloomberg

Source: Business Times 15-11-2013

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Staff Attrition

A close friend called me up, I felt her frustration and disappointment over the phone, telling me that her long time employee had decided to "leave" her for another opportunity.

A quick flash went through my mind as I had the pleasure of knowing this employee over the years. He had worked himself up from the ground to a highly respected position of a Marketing Manager. He was trusted and was given much responsibility and opportunity to grow within the Company. A career path was also planned for him.

Lo and behold, one day, out from the blue, he threw a "bombshell" and tendered his resignation! My friend was aghast!

Ungrateful? Unthankful? Too ambitious and couldn't wait for his promotion? Or his career path was not clear to him? Or wanting to make a new opportunity for himself after learning the ropes, wanting to strike out for himself? Or ...

Whatever the reasons, even after trying to persuade him to change his mind, if he has to go, he goes.

As an employer, we must be ready and expect, even the best employee to leave as each individual will have his or her own reason to stay or leave. It is important and in the interest of the employer to retain the staff as well.

I believe even the "Best run Company" with all the "best perks in the world" will also have staff attrition. What the employer should continue to do is to provide a conducive work environment, good management practice and leadership, effective HR program with competitive packages, incentives and career opportunities etc. These are the very basic that all employers should have. Any additions will be value-add.

Employees will always "look outside" but we can minimise staff mobility. As an employer, we must also be "people sensitive" and must set aside time to "communicate" with the staff and allow staff to have their own "space" for expressions as well.

The good news is, Company will always continue to grow irrespective of staff movements. The critical factor that the leadership must have is its strong focus in its task and business supported by relevant structure and processes in place for business continuity and negative risk containment.

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Frame of Mind

Since the Malaysian Budget 2014 was announced on 25th October 2013, I was asked many times on my views about "the GST" and the "RPGT". These 2 are hot topics "for the day" as evidenced by the many write-ups in the news media in the past few weeks.

I gave my views and then it would be followed by tirades of "what is not right" about the "GST" and the "RPGT". The people, who asked me, would identify the pitfalls, the timing, the implementation mechanisms etc  ... I was taken aback when there were also numerous discussions and feedbacks, in the news media and "Talk Shows" from authoritative and leading financials and management bodies/corporations outlining the "pros" and "cons" and the mechanisms, in their views, in which the "GST" and the "RPGT" could be implemented. Experiences of other Countries were also being openly discussed and shared.

The people was obviously oblivious to the bigger picture of the "world out there" and decided to be trapped in their views of "what is going to happen and how disadvantaged would the people be" if the 2 subject matters are to be implemented. To my mind, "they asked and yet decidedly not ready to open their minds to the on-going debates on same" in order to have a better grip on their interests. Thus, they get frustrated and "stressed-out".

What do I do? I just had to explain my views and supplement with the various opinions, proposals and suggestions that I read and heard from the Authority and other authoritative and competent professionals/corporations. Meanwhile, it must be noted that the Government is still mulling with the details of the implementation.

What lesson can we gathered from here? I suppose there are always differences of opinions in any subject matter ... some are opened to the views of others, others may not and yet there are some who think they know more ... You can't win them all ... life has to go on ... you do what you can and do the best according to your ability ...

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Malaysia's Vision 2020 on track

Malaysia’s surge from once a nascent developing economy to what it is now is described by some US experts as an "advanced emerging economy", is a reminder that the country is transiting to becoming a full developed nation by the year 2020, a goal that is embedded in the Malaysian government’s Vision 2020.

The level of development and sophistication characterising Malaysia’s economy today was also highlighted by Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, who is currently visiting New York with a  delegation of 14 Malaysian companies showcased under the Invest Malaysia USA (IMUS) 2013 roadshow to attract portfolio investors from the United States to Malaysia’s capital market. 

"In line with the goal of making Malaysia a developed country by 2020, we underlined our objectives to increase the country’s per capita income from US6,750 to US$15,000 in 2020.

Currently, we are around US$10,000 and are on track to achieving the US$15,000 income target by 2020. This is an all-inclusive income growth we are trying to achieve," Abdul Wahid said in an interview with Bernama in New York.

Abdul Wahid, who is rated as one of Malaysia’s leading financial experts and was the president and chief executive officer of the Maybank Group before he was appointed the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, reinforced the Malaysian government’s "deep commitment" to improving the earnings of all Malaysians, including the low-income earning Malaysians.

"Our goal will be to achieve sustainability. By sustainability, we do not just mean the environment-friendly and judicious use of the country’s natural resources such as oil and gas, but also the overall economic management of the country. 

Abdul Wahid spoke of the "dramatic transformation" of Malaysia’s economy which had moved from an agro-based through manufacturing to a services economy. "The services sector contributed about 55 per cent to the economy and has exceeded the manufacturing sector," he said.

Highlighting the positive attributes of Malaysia’s corporate sector, Abdul Wahid said Malaysian companies are better capitalised today, their debt levels are much lower than in 1997/98, when the devastating financial crisis enveloped a number of Southeast Asian countries, and their borrowings are in ringgit rather than in US dollars, thus cushioning them against forex volatility.

"The size of our international reserves then were between US$19 billion and US$30 billion. Today the reserves are around US$106 billion," he said.

With the formation of the Asean Economic Community in 2015, Abdul Wahib said that he was a "great believer in the Asean story". "I believe that the Asean leaders are committed to the Asean goals. Malaysian companies are successfully operating in the Asean region and this will, invariably, give American companies many advantages, including accessibility to a US$2 trillion capital market," he stressed.

In the balance-of-payment account, Malaysia is projected to have a surplus of RM25 billion this year. However, the payment account surplus was narrowing down attributed mainly to lower exports, rise in imports, particularly involving big-ticket purchases such as large commercial aircraft by the airlines. 

Facing shortage of experts and skilled labour, Malaysia is also trying to lure back Malaysian experts who work abroad. "We are keen to attract Malaysian expats living abroad to return to Malaysia and provide their expertise in their area of specialisation," he added.
Source: the New Straits Times 06-11-2013

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Life is like a Camera

I thought this is AWESOME! ... received from a friend ... would like to share with all ...

Life is like a camera ...
Focus on what is important,
Capture the good times,
Develop from the negatives,
And if things don't work out,
Take another shot.
... very wise ...

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EPP3: Orthopaedic devices - Sima Medical

Sima Medical will be championing an effort to develop orthopaedic clinical devices in Malaysia via its joint venture with the Naton Medical Group of China and Malaysian partners.
  • Investment by 2020 (million)
  • GNI Impact by 2020 (million)
  • Jobs created by 2020
The OEM will be based in Malaysia with the technologies and intellectual properties provided by the Naton Medical Group. Sima Medical will focus on the following orthopaedic product segments:

- Nail, Plate, Knee, Hip, Spine, Dental and Cranio-Maxillofacial systems
The manufacturing of these segments will be outsourced by Sima Medical to Straits Orthopaedics and/or ABio Orthopaedics of Penang. Sima Medical will directly undertake the marketing and sales of products to emerging and international markets in Penang and the R&D will be based in Petaling Jaya.

Market sector especially in the Asia Pacific are achieving double digits growth in orthopaedics field.

Therefore, Malaysia is an ideal location for Sima Medical for two main reasons include internationally cost competitive and positive perception of the Malaysian made products. The projected timelines for this project are as per below:
  • Phase 1 – launch products into the Malaysian market before the end of 2014
  • Phase 2 – launch products into the Asia Pacific markets before the end of 2015
 Source: ETP website

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EPP3: Investment in Sterile Injectables/Infusions by Kotra Pharma

Kotra Pharma will be investing RM60 million to develop a manufacturing line to produce sterile injectable or infusion products. These products are currently not produced in Malaysia and it will be a pioneering initiative.
  • Investment by 2020 (million)
  • GNI Impact by 2020 (million)
  • Jobs created by 2020
The manufacturing line will be an addition to the world class pharmaceutical plant worth RM152 million which was initiated in 2010.

Kotra will be able to supply the Ministry of Health through this investment which will then substitute the need to import these products. Kotra currently exports to over 40 countries to date and is looking to expand the product range in its export market.

Source: ETP website

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EPP3 - pMDI by RBL

From the ETP website, RB Lifescience Sdn Bhd (RBL), will be building a pharmaceutical plant for the production of generic pMDI inhalers and oncology injectables.

The commercial production of these medicines will kick start in 2016 and the later in 2017. This initiative has large potential as it has an expected growth rate of 8-10% pa in Malaysia and in the ASEAN region.
  • Investment by 2020 (million)
  • GNI Impact by 2020 (million)
  • Jobs created by 2020
The generic medicines and the technology are new and currently unavailable in this region. Therefore, RBL will acquire new technology via technology transfer agreements with renowned international pharmaceutical companies. Through this, RBL aims to develop the nation’s pharmaceutical sector by becoming a large exporter of these generic medicines by 2020.

Currently, inhalers and oncology injectables are imported by the countries in the ASEAN region. 

Source: ETP website Project 29-08-2013


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Caring Pharmacy’s IPO oversubscribed 33.66 times

Caring Pharmacy Group Bhd’s offer of 10.87 million shares of RM1.25 each to the public was oversubscribed by 33.66 times.

The community pharmacy operator, which is seeking a listing on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia on Nov 13, said there were 20,137 applications valued at RM471.64mil from the public.

Caring managing director Chong Yeow Siang said the overwhelming response reflected the healthy fundamentals and the potential growth prospects.

The joint placement agents also confirmed the 14.20 million shares made available for private placement were oversubscribed, according to a statement issued on Saturday.

The listing exercise involved the public issuance of 35 million new shares, which would result in raising  RM43.75mil.

Caring said 41% of the proceeds would be used to open new pharmacy outlets and another 27% for working capital.

Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd is the principal adviser, managing underwriter, joint underwriter with MIDF Amanah Investment Bank Bhd, and joint placement agent with Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd.
Source: theSTAR 02-11-2013

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CCM Duopharma, Korea’s PanGen: Phaes III -Epoetin-Alfa

CCM Duopharma Biotech Bhd (CCMD) and South Korea’s PanGen Biotech will conduct phase three clinical trials of the latter’s PDA10 drug to treat patients with anemia due to chronic kidney failure.

CCMD said on Friday if the trials, starting in November are successful, it will have the commercialisation rights to market and distribute the drug in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, worth more than RM50mil annually.


PDA10, or Epoetin-Alfa, is PanGen’s first commercial finished "biosimilar" – that is, a follow-on version of existing bio-pharmaceutical product whose patent has expired.

The clinical trial costing RM8mil involves 18 sites and 300 patients in Malaysia, while in Korea, where testing is already underway, it includes five sites and 40 patients.

To recap, the trial follows the joint clinical trial agreement with PanGen in June 2012. The trial will conform with the European Medicines Agency and the Malaysian National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau (NPCB) guidelines.

“This agreement will enable CCMD and CCM Group to compete for high value added partnership projects in the commercialisation of biosimilars while eliminating the need to invest in very expensive clinical trials and long gestation periods to deliver the product to market,” said Amirul Feisal, a CCMD board member.

Biosimilars, dominated by global pharmaceutical players, is forecast to expand at a compounded average growth rate of 12% in Asia, and is expected to be worth an estimated RM8bil in Southeast Asia by 2020.

CCMD invested RM7mil to establish Malaysia’s first NPCB-certified GMP Biological Fill and Finish facility in Klang and it might invest an additional RM9mil for a pre-filled syringe suite should the phase three trials prove successful.
Source: theSTAR 01-11-2013

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Malaysia: Average Salary increase of 5.7% in 2014

Malaysian employees are expected to see an average salary increase of 5.7% in 2014, higher than the national average salary increase of 5.3% this year, given the good growth prospects for local businesses going forward, according to a latest survey by Towers Watson.

Findings of the "2013 General Industry Total Rewards Survey – Malaysia" also found that employee turnover rate in the general industry in Malaysia has increased to 13.2% in 2013 from 12.3% last year."Manufacturing, conglomerates and financial services industries were experiencing high staff turnover, with manufacturing experiencing 24% employee churn, conglomerates at 14%, business process outsourcing at 19% and financial services at 13.3% this year," said Towers Watson in a statement yesterday, 30th October 2013

It attributed a key reason for the higher turnover rate in the Malaysian general industry to employees feeling that the economy will remain stable despite the uncertain global climate. "Another reason is that local organisations are also actively taking steps to improve their employee value proposition to attract top talent besides offering higher salaries and faster growth opportunities" said Towers Watson global data services practice leader for Southeast Asia, Sean Darilay in a statement yesterday.

He said an earlier Towers Watson's "2012 Global Workforce Study" revealed that 51% of Malaysian employees felt that they have to switch to another organisation to advance in their career or to achieve higher job level, with an "alarming" 83% of them willing to relocate to achieve this. "It is unsurprising that career development is a priority for employees in Malaysia where growth prospects are brighter. As the working class population expands, many young workers are demonstrating a strong desire to build a successful career in line with their aspirations to achieve a better quality of life," Darilay said.

"Employers should also recognise that while pay is still an important element in the equation, the key is to be able to design a comprehensive employee value proposition that balances different drivers and motivators of performance," he added.

Entry level salaries for fresh graduates increased by 8% in 2013 and ranges between RM2,400 and RM2,800 per month. In comparison to this, entry level salaries for MBA graduates range between RM2,600 and RM3,000 per month.

 The survey findings noted that positions in sales, information technology, finance, marketing and customer services/technical support remained as hot jobs. "This is due to the continuous need for organisations to strengthen their brand, improve sales leading to improved ROI and reduce operations costs by improving technology efficiency and productivity," Darilay said.

The "2013 General Industry Total Rewards Survey – Malaysia" saw over 350 organisations from across industries in Malaysia participating. It is an annual survey that provides insights into current compensation practises and trends in Malaysia, thereby aiding organisations to make informed decisions with respect to their total reward programmes.
Source: theSun 31-10-2013


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Expats rank Malaysia among best countries to work in

Under the Expat Economics section, the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2013, published recently, ranked Malaysia 14th out of a league table of 37 countries, commending its young and dynamic population and a growing economy. The HSBC Explorer Expat Survey 2013 compiled findings from about 7,000 expats worldwide.

Expatriates ranked Malaysia as one of the better places in the world to work in, with Malaysian work culture ranked second in the world, and Malaysians considered the fourth easiest country in which to make friends.

It ranked Malaysia 5th in the world in terms of household income, and 11th where expat satisfaction with the local economy was concerned. The country however fared poorly at 27th in terms of disposable income.

It said that expats were also "upbeat" about Malaysia's local economy, with 41% of them here believing that it was getting better, and that nearly eight in ten expats here were also satisfied with the local economy.

"As a result, few expats are looking to leave the country because of a negative economic outlook, only 15% compared to a global average of 25%," the study said.

The survey however ranked Malaysia's neighbours Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore better in terms of expat-related economics, ranking them 4th, 6th and 9th respectively.

Expats also seemed to be less taken with Malaysia as a second home. The country ranked 20th under the survey's Expat Experience list, behind Thailand and Singapore, which ranked 1st and 6th in the world respectively.

Expats, according to the survey's website, found it easy to make friends here (4th), though integrating into the community was another matter (27th). Organising healthcare was not a problem (5th) for expats, but access to quality healthcare was an issue (29th).

In terms of local work culture, the survey found Malaysia near the top at 2nd, though expats seemed to feel less welcome at work (32nd) than in other countries. A work/life balance was also a problem, with Malaysia at 31st on the list.

Learning and using the local language was also a challenge for expats here, with Malaysia ranking at 23rd and 29th respectively.

Malaysian food was also not seen in a good light. To expats, local cuisine was considered unhealthy (35th). Getting used to it was an issue (31st), and enjoying it appeared to be a problem (34th).

Many expats here however seemed to have a great social life (2nd) and tended to be very sporty (2nd). Also, 54% expats surveyed here believed that Malaysia had a higher quality of life, as opposed to a global average of 45%.

Malaysia could not be ranked under the survey's full list, included in the Expat Survey league table as there was not enough data over the raising of expat children.

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Lonely Planet: Travel list for 2014 and Malaysia is featured.

MALAYSIA has been chosen as one of the world’s Top 10 Countries for next year and the only Asian country to make the list. Lonely Planet has included it in it’s Best in Travel 2014 that is hot off the press.

It will be Visit Malaysia Year next year and besides her perennial attractions and new ones that have  been recently added, there will be all kinds of events and festivities to mark the occasion.

“Among new tourist attractions are the largest bird park in Southeast Asia in Malacca (with 6000 birds featuring 400 species), Legoland Malaysia and Hello Kitty Land in Nusajaya,” the book observes.

“The new second terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA2), catering mainly to the booming budget-airline sector, is another major factor in attracting more visitors.”

The top three countries/regions listed are Brazil, Antarctica and Scotland in that order. Sweden, Malawi, Mexico, Seychelles, Belgium, Macedonia round it up with Malaysia ending the list.

Lonely Planet focuses on the merits of each destination and the unique experiences they offer to travellers. It features Malaysia as one of the top 10 countries to visit in 2014.
Other 2014 highlights include:

• Top 10 Regions to visit: Sikkim, The Kimberley, Yorkshire, Hokuriku, Texas, Victoria Falls, Mallorca, West Coast New Zealand, Hunan and Ha’apai.

• Top 10 Cities to visit: Paris, Trinidad, Cape Town, Riga, Zürich, Shanghai, Vancouver, Chicago, Adelaide and Auckland.



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Malaysia: 6th spot in World Bank "Doing Business" report

Malaysia has surged to the sixth position among 189 economies in the latest World Bank Doing Business 2014 report, putting it ahead of economies such as South Korea, Norway, the United Kingdom, Australia and Finland.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said Malaysia achieved this well ahead of its target to be among the top 10 by 2015. Last year, Malaysia was ranked 12th.

He said Malaysia achieved first position in Getting Credit and fourth in Protecting Investors six years in a row.

In the area of Trading Across Borders, Malaysia made a breakthrough to fifth position.

Other significant improvements made were in the areas of "starting a business", "“dealing with construction permits", "enforcing contracts", "resolving insolvency", and "getting electricity".

Mustapa said the World Bank further acknowledged that Malaysia was among the economies that improved the most across three or more doing business areas.

World Bank Group President Kim Jim Yong, who appointed an independent panel last year to review the Doing Business report after criticism about it from some of the bank's board members, said he would keep the rankings since they help countries improve their business climates - EPA Photo.
Singapore retained its No 1 spot in overall rankings for the eighth straight year, followed by Hong Kong, New Zealand and the US.

The report judges 189 countries on 10 criteria, such as ease of opening a business and paying taxes, and assigns each country a rank. Since their inception in 2003, the rankings have come to carry a huge weight with governments eager to attract private enterprise.

"Doing Business is not about less regulation, but about better regulation," the World Bank said in the report.

Source: the STAR 29-10-2013

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Ringgit against the USD by end 2013 ?

MALAYSIA’S currency, along with several other regional currencies, has regained some lost ground in recent weeks after suffering a major sell-off between August and early September. Quoted at around 3.16 per US dollar as at Oct 24, 2013, the ringgit’s performance represented an appreciation of 5% from Aug 28 when the ringgit fell to a three-year low of 3.33 per unit of the greenback.

And now, analysts believe the direction for the ringgit towards the end of the year is only up, thanks to the return of foreign capital, as concern over the US Federal Reserve planning to wind down their quantitative easing (QE) programme subsides. RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd expects the ringgit to reach 3.10 per US dollar by the end of this year. This compared with the ringgit’s value at 3.05 against the greenback at the start of 2013. 

“The ringgit, however, is still vulnerable to global swing in risk appetite given that the US fiscal brinkmanship will likely come back to haunt the economy in the early part of the year and expectation of the QE tapering remains,” it warns.

Risks to outlook
According to ADB, economies in developing Asia, including Malaysia, in general face three major risks. These include increased volatility in global and regional financial markets due in particular to uncertainties over monetary and fiscal policies in advanced economies; a more pronounced slowdown in major regional economies, such as China, India and Indonesia, which will affect other economies within the region; and a disruption in the recovery of the Group of Three, or G3, economies, namely the United States, Europe and Japan.

According to ADB, developing Asia’s growth will likely slow slightly this year before picking up next year. In general, it expects developing Asia to grow 6% in 2013, slightly below the 6.1% growth last year, before recovering to a 6.2% growth in 2014.
Source: theSTAR 26-10-2013

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Malaysia Health Sector: Budget 2014

The government will provide free Peritoneal Dialysis machine, called the Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD), costing RM19,000 per unit, to patients with end state kidney failure to enable them to do the treatment at their own home.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said the government realised the difficulty of patients with kidney failure in having to go to the haemodialysis centre for treatment three time a week and spent up to RM400 for each treatment.

The government would continue to provide quality health care and medical services for the people and was allocating RM22.1 billion for the health sector, he said when tabling the 2014 Budget in the Dewan Rakyat today.

He said the allocation would be channelled for various programmes and projects, including the construction of Tanjung Karang Hospital and additional blocks for Jeli Hospital, as well as upgrading of the Kuala Lipis Hospital and 30 rural clinics. The government, he said, had set up 234 1Malaysia clinics and another 50 to be set up next year.

In addition, the government would allocate RM66 million for the purchase of equipment and the construction of additional blocks at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu, he added.

"To improve the quality of nursing care and reduce the nurses' workload of working continuously in two shifts, the government will appoint 6,800 more nurses with an allocation of RM150 million," he added.

He said an allocation of RM3.3 billion would also be made for the purchase of medicine and medical equipment to ensure patients receive appropriate treatment, including expanding the cardiothoracic services in the Ipoh, Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan and Kuching hospitals.

To address the shortage of parking lots at Kuala Lumpur Hospital, he said, a total of 1,950 new parking lots would be completed next year.

He said hospitals in Rompin and Tampin, as well as the National Cancer Institute, would be operational next year.


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Malaysia: Budget 2014

The Goods and Services Tax (GST), abolition of sugar subsidy, 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) and higher property taxes - these were the highlights of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's Budget 2014.

Najib, who presented his budget speech before Parliament on Friday, 25th October 2013, first shook the House when he announced that the hotly debated GST would be introduced from April 1, 2015 at a rate of 6%.
"With the implementation of GST, the Government will be able to address the weaknesses in the current taxation system.

"As an example, if we were to buy a carbonated drink in a restaurant today, we would not notice that we are paying double taxes, which are sales tax and service tax."With the GST system, consumers will only need to pay tax once and the price of goods should be cheaper," he added.

Najib, who said the 6% GST was the lowest in the Asean region compared with 10% in Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines and Laos, and 7% in Singapore and Thailand, added that the Government would also provide a one-off payment of RM300 to BR1M households when GST was implemented. Essential food items will be exempted from GST.

Announcing other tax reductions to offset the introduction of GST, Najib said families with a monthly income of RM4,000 will no longer have any tax liabilities, with individual income tax rates being reduced by one to three percentage points for all taxpayers to increase their disposable income. This, he added, meant that 300,000 taxpayers will no longer pay income tax.

Najib said that certain essential items, however, would be exempted from GST - essential food items, transport services including toll payments, purchase and rental of residential properties and selected financial services.

GST will also not be imposed on basic food items, piped water supply, the first 200 units of electricity per month for domestic consumers, services provided by the Government such as issuance of passports and licences, health services and school education.

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Name Card

I was told by a friend, who travels extensively across the globe on business, that only in Asia that "you see name cards being frequently exchanged ..." Everybody seems to have name cards...

In a way, it's true. I can easily visualize the many occasions that I observed that cards are frequently exchanged, from a junior and up and coming executives, to mid and higher management staff in almost any settings viz; in a pub to restaurants, hotel lobbies, offices etc in this part of the world.

Personally, I believe that giving a name card to an acquaintance or friend is for practical reason as it facilitate follow-ups and opoortunitites. The card would also update your "address, place of work, status in the Company, your contact details ..."

Thus, in a way, your name card, "sells" and impresses upon the person, who received your card, as to your "standing or status" either socially or in business. I would therefore advise that it is of utmost importance, in business, that your name card be well designed and be attractive with all relevant details of "who you are".

"Why?" ... this was asked by a friend ... "and why the title or your position in the Company? I would prefer to have my name and leave out my position ..."

The rationale: " If you are under time constraint and need to make a quick decision to seek a business collaboration, what would you do? ... and you have 10 potential partners and their respective business cards are in front of you and you need to see only 3 for selection ... I am sure you would screen the 10 cards, picked the better of the 10 cards, study the names, the titles and positions of the respective individuals in the Companies etc ... Without hesitation and doubt you would select the person with the recognised responsibility and title in the company as you would like to speak to the right person for decision making ... Thus, lo and behold, if your name card is without your title and standing in the Company, though you may want to be humble, you may miss out the opportunity!"

Your name card is thus "you" when "you" are not physically available. Thus you have to be "attractive" even though you are not physically around.

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Asset bubble?

There is no reason to believe that Malaysia has seen the formation of an asset bubble that is about to burst, as the country has addressed many of the issues and risks related to it, says Central Bank Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz.

She said three series of macro prudential measures had been introduced to avoid the very risk of the formation of such a bubble asset.She was responding to a question on whether Malaysia was experiencing an asset bubble that would burst if China’s economy tumbled and as global interest rates rose, as reported recently by the foreign media.

“Conditions between now and in 1997/1998 are different. We are now on a growth path,” she told a press conference in conjunction with the South East Asian Central Banks (Seacen) 30th Anniversary Conference on Greater Financial Integration and Financial Stability and launch of the Seacen Financial Stability Journal, here yesterday.

Zeti said domestic demand was driving Malaysia’s economic growth and the country was not at the epicentre of the recent global financial crisis. “Our financial intermediaries remain resilient and the supply of credit was never disrupted,” she added. "This is the result of the focus over the last decade on financial reforms that have strengthened the foundation of our financial system".

Meanwhile, Zeti said the modernisation of the Asian financial system had been accompanied by a significant strengthening of the regulatory and supervisory frameworks. It had also been accompanied by improved financial safety nets, a more effective surveillance of financial stability risks and stronger legal underpinnings. “These reforms supported the transition towards more market-oriented financial systems that are anchored in stronger institutions, risk management capacity and governance,” she added.

“Significant strides also continue to be made in strengthening consumer protection frameworks, promoting financial inclusion, and enhancing market discipline,” she said.

She also said these developments continued to support the region through the recent episodes of turbulence in the global financial markets.
Source: theSTAR 21-10-2013


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