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CIDB: MBAM’S MATTHEW TEE CALLS “A SPADE A SPADE” ON INDUSTRY CHALLENGES

 

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KUALA LUMPUR: Matthew Tee, President of the Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM), comes across as a progressive and articulate building professional when he talks about the Malaysian construction industry.

Being absolutely passionate about the industry, he feels that its players should be more pro-active if they were to move forward with the times.

 

He usually calls a spade, a spade when he speaks openly about the industry’s challenges, especially in relation to human resource and the use of better and modern techniques to become more efficient contractors.

Tee’s career in the construction industry has seen him rise to become Group Executive Director of Bina Puri Holdings Bhd, President of the Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM) and a Director of the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).

“You have to constantly improve yourself. We need to look within ourselves and improve ourselves first before highlighting the shortfalls of the industry, which are all well known to its players. When faced with problems, we often tend to just complain. We have to be more proactive,” he says.

 

“For instance, if you’re not happy with something and want your message to be heard, just don’t talk after meetings. Follow up with the right (working) paper,” he adds.

 

Tee is especially concerned about the human capital aspect of the industry. He is all for the reduction of foreigners in the construction industry but feels that the authorities need to have a thorough examination of the issue and not just hand out piecemeal solutions.

 

“When we talk about human capital issues, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Human Resources should consult with us before implementing certain policies. When we tell them we have a problem they should see us instantaneously rather than being bureaucratic. Taking into account CIDB Chairman, Tan Sri Dr. Ir. Ahmad Tajuddin Ali’s statement that all these foreigners for today’s solution is tomorrow’s problem,” he stresses.

 

But on the other side of the coin, Tee says that if one were to look at the practical side of things, reducing the number of foreigners is easier said than done.

After all, he acknowledges that Malaysia’s population is still relatively small, and very few Malaysians want to be in the construction industry.

 

“Our industry pays well, but it’s always a ‘don’t want’ syndrome. A mobile crane operator, who goes for a course with CIDB in collaboration with the Malaysian Mobile Crane Association, actually gets a monthly allowance of RM600 to train.

 

“We usually get Form 5 or so school leavers as these are the only people we can tap to join the industry. From there the company itself gives them RM60 every day in allowance to work. So after three to four months, they graduate. For such trained workers, their salary then ranges from RM2,500 to RM2,800 and that’s quite a lot.

 

“You get people working as toll collectors and being paid RM900; drivers RM1,400; hand phone sales staff RM1,200 and some people in the hotel line are getting RM400 to RM900 before the service tips. So it goes to show that our industry pays well.”

 

Taking cognisance of the issues of productivity and innovation in the 11th Malaysia Plan, Tee believes in harnessing skilled foreign workers in the current tight labour situation.

He feels that industry players must work extra hard to fill the void, such as marketing themselves better or looking at improving the wage structure.

If there needs a mind-set change to effect employment of more locals, Tee believes that there should also be a parallel condition to compel employers to do so with more stringent requirements by the government.

 

“Only then it can be done. If you pay more, you should have better productivity in an ideal situation,” he adds.

 

Tee believes that the long term solution will be greater mechanisation among industry players.

It is really a chicken and egg situation or a cat and mouse game. Presently, import duties for heavy machinery used for construction are rather prohibitive and employers are therefore playing a waiting game for duties to come down.

 

“We have been highlighting the reduction of import duties to 5.0 per cent to be on par with regional peers since 2006. Until now, except for reduction for 3 categories of construction machineries which saw a reduction from 10% to 5% effective 11th June 2015, the Government has not heeded our request for reduction on other construction machineries with import duties above 30% and these are things that I feel that the Government can do to (seriously) tackle the labour problem,” he says.

 

After 20 years, what are Tee’s perceptions of his peers in the industry? “Our industry must elevate our own standards and look within our own organisations, rather than always complain about all the shortfalls and difficulties of our industry. If everyone does his or her part to improvise, then the industry will move along the same (progressive) path,” he feels.

 

On CIDB’s 20th year milestone as an industry regulator, Tee says that the agency has been instrumental in raising construction standards and training all kinds of workers for the needs of industry.

He is also pleased that the construction industry is now more structured, with CIDB having taken over many functions.

 

Tee regards such developments spearheaded by the CIDB as the construction courts and Construction Industry Payment and Adjudication Act 2012 (CIPAA) as game changing for the industry.

“CIDB worked with us to implement the CIPAA. For us contractors, when we perform the work, we want to be paid. Payment is a lifeline for every contractor. After so many years, this to us is a very important thing.”

 

As for the future, Tee is especially optimistic that the recently launched Construction industry Transformation Plan (CITP) will be important for the industry. This is especially so when other ministries rather than just the Works Ministry have to be part of the CITP’s thrusts and processes.

 

With that assurance, Tee is working with industry peers and associations to make sure that “all of us are working towards the common goal.”

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CIDB LOOKS TO DO MORE FOR CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

 

Ringgit To Weaken Against US Dollar ?

The ringgit is likely to be lower against the US dollar next week as the greenback hits a four-year high against major currencies, currency traders said.

Hong Leong Bank senior manager for bond and economic research Choong Yin Pheng said the ringgit would lack the catalyst next week and would be looking at the US dollar tone for direction.

She said the upside support from the overnight policy rate outlook was losing steam and would likely continue pressuring the local currency from going forward.

“With higher interest rate outlook in the US holding tight and reinforced by gains in the US data, it is likely that the greenback would remain firm next week,” she said.

On a weekly basis, the ringgit declined to 3.2580/2610 per US dollar against last Friday’s 3.2330/2350.

It also ended the week mostly lower against other major currencies except for the euro.

The local unit depreciated against the Singapore dollar to 2.5645/5673 from last Friday’s 2.5515/5551, down against the yen at 2.9884/9917 from 2.9691/9723, and weakened against the British pound to 5.3193/3246 from 5.2957/2999.

However, it edged up against the euro to 4.1533/1584 from 4.1625/1664 last Friday. – Bernama, September 27, 2014.

 

Will New MB Selangor Continues Raja Idris’ Contract ?

 

YM Raja Idris

Raja Idris is in the hot soup ???

Selangor PAS liaison committee member Izham Hashim alleges that certain groups in PAS remained staunch supporters of Abdul Khalid Ibrahim because they were able to control state GLCs through the former menteri besar via his crony Raja Idris .

Who is Raja Idris ?

YM Raja Haji Idris Raja Kamarudin, a British citizen, aged 58, was appointed Chairman of Kumpulan Perangsang Selangor Berhad on 18 March 2011.  YM Raja Haji Idris has been a Member of The Chartered Institute of Bankers, United Kingdom currently known as The Institute of Financial Services since 1974 and a Full Member of The Institute for the Management of Information Systems (“MIMIS”), United Kingdom since 1995.

In the course of his career, YM Raja Haji Idris has acquired more than thirty (30) years of experience holding top management positions in various Private Limited, Public Listed and Multi National Companies.

Between 1994 to 1995, YM Raja Haji Idris was the Managing Director of Nixdorf Computers Malaysia Sdn Bhd and from 1995 to 1998 served as the Executive Director of Siemens Nixdorf Information System (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.  From 1997 to 2000, he was appointed to the Board as Non-Executive Director of Siemens Multimedia Sdn Bhd and from 1998 to 2000, assumed the position of Vice President, Information & Communication Network of Siemens Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

In 2000, YM Raja Haji Idris was appointed as Group Executive Director of TDM Berhad, a position he held until 2004.  He served as the Managing Director of Glory Setup Sdn Bhd and Executive Chairman of Virgo Tours Sdn Bhd from 2004 to 2006.  Presently, YM Raja Haji Idris is a Consultant at the Markfield Institute of Higher Education, Leicestershire, United Kingdom, a position he has held since 2006.

Commencing 2009 till todate, YM Raja Haji Idris serves as Consultant to Significant Technologies Sdn Bhd and in 2011 as a Director/Consultant of Rototype International, United Kingdom.

YM Raja Haji Idris was appointed to the Board of Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad on 4 April 2011. YM Raja Haji Idris is also the Chairman of Kumpulan Hartanah Selangor Berhad.

It will be interesting to see the development of this saga..

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Kenapa Tidak Banyak Syarikat Kedah Berdaftar di Martrade ?

Syarikat-syarikat di Kedah digesa supaya mendaftar sebagai anggota Perbadanan Pembangunan Perdagangan Luar Malaysia (Matrade) bagi membolehkan mereka mendapat maklumat pasaran serta peluang perdagangan terkini, terutama di pasaran antarabangsa.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Tun Dr Mahathir berkata sehingga kini, sejumlah 312 syarikat dari Kedah telah berdaftar dengan Matrade, dengan 264 terdiri daripada syarikat Perusahaan Kecil dan Sederhana (PKS) manakala 48 lagi syarikat besar.

Katanya beliau tidak berpuas hati dengan angka tersebut kerana ia menunjukkan banyak syarikat di negeri ini masih tidak berdaftar dengan Matrade.

“Sektor pemakanan yang paling ramai daftar dengan Matrade, diikuti minuman dan produk lain seperti farmaseutikal, kelengkapan dandanan diri, kosmetik, perabot serta elektrik dan elektronik,” katanya kepada pemberita selepas merasmikan Program Forum Pengeksport Matrade 2014 di Sungai Petani hari ini.

Hadir sama Pengerusi Matrade Datuk Noraini Ahmad.

Mukhriz berkata beliau banyak berbincang dengan syarikat-syarikat di Kedah tentang usaha untuk mengeksport produk mereka ke luar negara, namun ramai ragu-ragu untuk memasarkan produk mereka ke luar negara.

“Masalah mereka antara lain ialah bimbang ada tempahan dari luar negara dalam kuantiti yang besar sehingga mereka tidak cukup kapasiti (untuk menanganinya). Mereka takut ia akan menjejaskan nama syarikat dan juga nama negara,” katanya.

Sehubungan itu, beliau berharap kerjasama dapat dijalin dengan institusi perbankan bagi membantu dalam aspek modal serta bantuan kemudahan perdagangan”.

“Jangan tunggu dapat tempahan, baru nak fikir (bantuan modal). Jika ikut Matrade pergi misi perdagangan, apabila syarikat datang dengan sokongan bank, syarikat sana (luar negeri) lebih yakin dengan syarikat Malaysia untuk memenuhi tempahan,” katanya.

Mukhriz berkata usahawan yang baharu memulakan perniagaan juga perlu mendaftar awal dengan Matrade bagi mendapatkan maklumat yang boleh membantu mereka memajukan perniagaan.

“Daftar dengan Matrade bukan bermaksud terus nak eksport produk, tapi untuk dapat maklumat. Malaysia banyak menandatangani perjanjian perdagangan bebas …banyak peluang tetapi banyak syarikat tak tau. Banyak tak tau tentang pelepasan cukai kalau eksport,” katanya.

Beliau berkata jika usahawan di Kedah memanfaatkan kemudahan yang disediakan Matrade, eksport dari Kedah ke luar negeri mampu ditingkatkan ke tahap yang jauh lebih baik.

Terdahulu dalam ucapannya, Mukhriz menggesa syarikat-syarikat di Kedah memanfaatkan maklumat dan bantuan yang disediakan Matrade dan perlu berani mengembangkan prospek perniagaan serta meneroka pasaran antarabangsa untuk menggalakkan jenama tempatan berkembang di peringkat antarabangsa.

“Saya percaya jika semua usahawan, termasuk petani dan nelayan di Kedah dapat beralih kepada paradigma baharu dalam pengeluaran dan pemasaran barangan, sektor eksport akan memberi pulangan yang cukup besar kepada perkembangan ekonomi negeri,” katanya.

Beliau berkata Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Kedah dengan kerjasama beberapa agensi kerajaan seperti Matrade, menganjurkan pelbagai program pembangunan usahawan untuk melahirkan golongan profesional dan usahawan global yang berjaya dan berani menghadapi cabaran.

GST Software Market Worth Rm1.7 Billion

The goods and services tax (GST) compliant software market is potentially worth about RM1.7 billion, and Censof Holdings Bhd and IFCA MSC Bhd are among the few public-listed companies to potentially benefit from it, said analysts.

MIDF Research approximated the value of the lucrative market by assuming an average software cost of RM6,000 and multiplying it by the number of yet-to-be-registered GST-compliant companies – 285,000 – which gives it RM1.7 billion.

In its research note last Friday, it said software vendors who provide GST-compliant software can expect a bump in sales come the fourth quarter of 2014 (4QCY14) or 1QCY15 as the slow take-up rate now would result in a pent-up demand since the government is not budging on its registration deadline.

Reiterating that it is positive on the sector, it identified three other public listed companies (PLCs) that could benefit from this, namely Asdion Bhd, DGB Asia Bhd and YGL Convergence Bhd.

Together with Censof and IFCA MSC, they are the only PLCs among the 100 or so authorised GST-compliant software vendors listed on the Royal Customs Department website that small to medium enterprises (SMEs) can choose from.

“However, the PLCs would still need to compete with private entities who are also providing GST-compliant software to secure contracts and a piece of this potential RM1.7 billion [in sales],” said MIDF analyst Martin Foo.

The research house added that as the December 31 deadline for companies with annual sales of over RM500,000 to register for GST draws nearer, software vendors are expected to enjoy brisk sales from last-minute demand for the software.

This could translate into better share price performance and short-term trading opportunities for vendors listed on the local bourse, said MIDF.

Censof, an information technology (IT) software solutions provider for both back-end and front-end products and services, is seen to be a front runner in this as it is a major accounting solutions provider for government agencies, with a clientele consisting of over 100 key government-related agencies and ministries, MIDF had noted in its April 29 analysis on the company.

Meanwhile, CIMB Research, in its research report dated August 27, said IFCA’s revenue in 2014 and 2015 is expected to be driven by the company’s GST software upgrade in Malaysia for its customers, as it is deemed to be the dominant software solutions provider for the property sector, with a market share exceeding 70%.

“As at end of June this year, we understand that only 10% of its customers have upgraded their software, an indication of the immense amount of business in the pipeline for the company over the next few quarters,” said CIMB.

The research house added that IFCA’s Malaysia sales contracts were already at RM42.1 million as of June, compared with RM39.8 million for the whole of 2013.

Malaysia Airlines Extend Jauhari’s Contract

Malaysian Airline System Bhd (MAS) has renewed the contract of its managing director and chief executive officer, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya (pic).

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia this evening, MAS said Ahmad Jauhari’s contract would be extended for one year, with effect from September 20, 2014 to September 19, 2015.

Ahmad Jauhari will be leading MAS, even after its de-listing from Bursa Malaysia – targeted at the end of this year, following the privatisation exercise by its major shareholder Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

Ahmad Jauhari had come under tremendous pressure to resign following the double tragedy of flights MH370 and MH17 this year.

The former disappeared from radar enroute to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, with 239 passengers and crew on board and has yet to be found, while the latter had 298 passengers and crew on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, when it is said to have been shot down over eastern Ukraine.

Asked in April if he will resign following the disapppearance of flight MH370 and the lack of answers from the airline and authorities, Ahmad Jauhari had replied that his resignation was a “personal decision for later”.

Meanwhile, the search for the CEO of Newco (the new operational company of MAS post-privatisation) is still ongoing.

Malaysia needs GST

In the face of continuing resistance towards the goods and services tax (GST) that will take effect next April, Putrajaya insisted again the tax is needed to prop up the economy.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the broad-based consumption tax was an important reform to help his administration to build a stronger, more sustainable and transparent economy.

“As a prime minister, it is my responsibility to make the right decisions for all Malaysians.

“I believe that the GST is the right tax at the right time for Malaysia,” he said in his keynote address at an international seminar on the GST in Malaysia today.

‎Putrajaya plans to scrap the current sales and services tax system and replace it with a broad-based 6% GST tax that will be levied on almost everything, except a list of essential goods, on April 1 next year.

Some of the exempted goods include fresh food, public transport, healthcare, domestic water and education fees.

Economists had welcomed the move which they say will help trim the nation’s high debt-to-GDP ratio but the tax has ‎attracted wide public opposition with up to 15,000 people turning up at an anti-GST rally on May 1, who feared it will burden consumers further.

Defending the implementation of GST, Najib who is also the finance minister, said the tax was needed to broaden the country’s tax base, since only one in 10 people paid personal income tax.

Moreover, 40% of the government’s revenue is from oil and gas, a resource that is finite.

“It is clear that Malaysia cannot sustain its growth and development based on current revenue streams alone.

“It is imperative we expand and diversify our tax base and implement a more effective and equitable tax system that allows us to secure our future,” he said, adding that GST would drive national development forward.

Despite Putrajaya’s multi-million ringgit marketing blitz to promote GST, surveys have shown that a majority of Malaysians are still against it.

A survey by UCSI poll research centre in June this year on 700 respondents showed that they did not accept the consumption tax, did not think the government could implement it effectively and that they were satisfied with the present tax system.

In May, independent pollster Merdeka Center released a survey which showed that 62% of its respondents were against the consumption tax.

The Merdeka Center survey also found that 33% of their respondents did not understand how the new system would work.

Bank of Tokyo Boosts Islamic Business With Sukuk Launch

TOKYO (Reuters) – The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU), Japan’s largest lender, hopes to expand its Islamic finance business across Asia and the Gulf, buoyed by a landmark multi-currency sukuk programme set up in Malaysia, a bank official told Reuters.

Efforts by conventional banks such as BTMU are helping Islamic finance win wider appeal, with France’s Societe Generale and Goldman Sachs also planning sukuk of their own.

BTMU, part of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, set up its sukuk programme in June, aiming to become the first Japanese commercial bank to tap the market.

The programme will allow its wholly-owned Malaysian unit, BTMU Malaysia Berhad, to raise the equivalent of US$500 million (S$631.7 million) via sukuk with tenors of up to 10 years.