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Friday, July 3, 2020

Census 2020 involving 33 million Malaysians to start on July 7

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): High-impact and large-scale development projects, involving the population of 33 million, will be enumerated through the Population and Housing Census 2020 (Census 2020) that will begin next Tuesday (July 7).
Themed "Your Data is Our Future”, Census 2020 is the sixth census conducted since 1963, which will cover nine million residences to get a comprehensive input to monitor the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
According to the official website, mycensus.gov.my, census activities will be carried out at all housing areas and residences nationwide in two phases, with the first-phase to be conducted online starting July 7 until Sept 30, while the second phase, from Oct 7 to Oct 24, will be done in person.
Census will be carried out on everybody at their respective residences on Census Day, including non-citizens who have lived or stayed for six months, or more, in Malaysia this year.
However, babies who are born after Census Day, and those who die before that, as well as those who live overseas or are out of the country for six months, or more, for work or study, are excluded from census.
According to an Economic Affairs Ministry’s statement, the Federal Government has gazetted, in accordance to the Census Act 1960, the directive to conduct population and housing census all over Malaysia based on Census Day, which is July 7.
"As such, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has given his consent to the appointment of chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin as the 6th census commissioner, to supervise the census and ensure planning as well as direction of the census to proceed smoothly, ” the statement said.
In line with technological advancement and current Malaysian lifestyle, data collection via online will be introduced through the Census Portal and mobile application during Census 2020.
To complete the e-Census form, postcards with guidelines and e-Census link (https://ecensus.mycensus.gov.my) at Census Portal will be sent to each residence, besides mobile application for census interviewees to fill information during interview sessions, by using tablets or smartphones.
The Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) will also contact selected residents by telephone.
Dr Mohd Uzir, in his special message on DOSM portal, said Census 2020 would adopt the "de jure" approach in which each person’s information is collected based on his or her usual residence on Census Day.
"This centralised and comprehensive census system with improved e-Census features provides a unified and integrated framework covering the process of complex data collection, analysis and dissemination.
"Thus, the implementation of MyIPCS in Census 2020 will benefit both compilers and respondents in ensuring everyone is counted.
"Additional questions on housing details, health, lifestyle and social relations are also included in Census 2020 to accommodate the changing lifestyle in society, ” he said.
He said DOSM has also adapted a new approach by introducing MyCensus 2020 portal (www.mycensus.gov.my) as an information gateway that offers an abundance of census information in the form of infographics, interactive visualisations and various online census-related applications.
Detailed profiling will be used for planning and decisions related to public services in each locality such as hospitals, schools, roads and public transportation.
However, as based on the Census Act 1960 (revised 1969), Census 2020 will also guarantee the confidentiality of information collected from all individuals. - Bernama

Brace for second wave of economic bad news

Under the movement control order, people were prohibited from going more than 10km from their homes to buy essential items.
With the number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia apparently under control and the number of deaths at zero for nearly three weeks, attention is turning to the economic cost of the lockdown or movement control order (MCO).
Based on new data, it is becoming clear that the economic cost is substantial and getting bigger. We can now expect the Malaysian economy to face two different waves of negative economic impact in the coming months.
The first wave is the immediate consequence of the lockdown. The second wave will come when most of the measures in the Prihatin and Penjana programmes end in September and is likely to be more severe and last longer than the first.
The impact of the first wave will be clear from the next round of data for gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter release on Aug 12.
Our forecast for Q2 GDP – in line with those recently published by the World Bank – are for a contraction of 10.4% year-on-year followed by a slow recovery that will signal a contraction of 7.1% for the whole year.
If we are correct, the economy will contract by RM107.2 billion compared to 2019, with a loss of RM179.7 billion compared to where the finance ministry expected us to be at the end of 2020.
Other new data from both Malaysia and our main global markets are turning downwards. Industrial production fell by 32.0% year-on-year in April against market expectations of a 15.4% contraction.
The May and June trade data showed a mixed picture, confirming the weakness in the international trade with another contraction in exports of 25.5% year-on-year and imports falling 30.4% year-on-year due to weakness in domestic demand.
Headline inflation showed a deep deflation of 2.9% for the second month running in May and we expect prices to fall by 2.5% during 2020 before returning to a more normal 2.0% inflation in 2021. This pushes short-term real interest rates to around 4.9% and long-term real interest rates to 5.8%, which are the highest in Asia and a significant drag on the economy.
Unemployment figures in April were at 5.0% — the worst figures for 30 years and expected to continue at 5-7% for the remainder of the year.
Add to that forecasts by the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) of unemployment at two million and factor in the economic and social impact of lost jobs, lost income, depleted savings and closed businesses and the real cost of the first wave of economic damage caused by the MCO are becoming clear.
The second wave of economic damage is likely to start once the wage subsidies end and firms begin to cut wages or more likely start widespread retrenchments, which are currently discouraged under the MCO regulations. We expect a surge in unemployment which is already at historic levels.
Official statistics of 778,800 unemployed Malaysians in April understate the actual number of people without work. We agree with other economic analysts that the number of Malaysians without jobs may exceed two million or 12.7% of the labour force. This will seriously cut consumption, both directly, because of lower incomes but also indirectly as consumers become more cautious and save more.
We also expect a substantial negative shock to consumer spending when the six-month loan moratorium ends because household debts are now more than 80% of GDP. The contraction in GDP will push the household debt ratio above 90%, which is unprecedented.
Housing market conditions will also hit household balance sheets. Forecasts of aggregate house prices range from sluggish growth around 1.1% to a collapse of 10-15%. Households with large housing loans risk negative equity which may force sales and downward pressure on house prices. We are also likely to see downward pressure on prices in commercial, office and retail properties.
This will all have an effect on businesses and we expect revenues and investment to fall and indebtedness to rise, which will likely cause a surge in business defaults and closures as owners see debts they cannot service and bills they cannot pay all falling due after the payment moratorium.
Any downtrend in the ratio of investment to GDP implies a reduction in the long-term growth potential of the economy as we saw in the 1997 financial crisis.
The scope for policy is already limited and we expect the spending capacity of the government to hit a constraint as tax revenues fall and stimulus costs take hold. The finance minister already predicts that the government deficit may reach 6.0% of GDP this year and we predict it may reach 9.0% due to lower revenue and growth.
We also predict that the government debt ratio will breach the 55% limit and come in around 61% by the end of the year.
In response to the crisis and based on relatively sanguine economic forecasts, the government has announced three economic packages in March, April and June, adding to a smaller stimulus by the previous government in February.
We estimate that the direct cash injection from these packages is RM50 billion, which is not enough to cover the expected loss of RM107.2 billion compared to 2019 or the loss of RM179.7 billion compared to where the finance ministry expected us to be by the end of 2020.
We expect that a further injection of around RM50 billion may be necessary before the end of the year and recommend that this should be in the form of mixed monetary and fiscal policy options, including a zero real interest rate target to boost investment.
The current number of new cases of Covid-19 in Malaysia is so low that the argument – economic or otherwise – for any form of economic and business restrictions is now unsustainable.
The government must recognise the economic devastation caused by the lockdown and the risks of a second wave of economic damage unless all remaining restrictions on economic activity are lifted and the focus shifts clearly toward structural recovery.
Dr Paolo Casadio, Dr Hui Hon Chung and Dr Geoffrey Williams are economists at HELP University based in Kuala Lumpur. - FMT
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

Petrol prices drop 4 sen, diesel 2 sen

PETALING JAYA: Fuel prices will see a slight drop across the board, the finance ministry announced.
Retail prices for both RON97 and RON95 will drop by 4 sen and will sell at RM1.95 and RM1.65 per litre, respectively.
Diesel will drop by 2 sen, retailing at RM1.84 per litre.
The prices are effective from midnight to July 10.
The ministry said the price drop is due to changes in refined product prices, in line with the global crude oil prices.
“The government will continue to monitor the impact of global crude oil price changes and take appropriate measures to ensure the welfare and well-being of the people are looked after,” it said. - FMT

Negotiating to use portion of road tax revenue for repairing federal roads - Fadillah

Malaysiakini

Negotiations are underway to set aside a portion of the road tax revenue into a special allocation to repair Federal roads nationwide, said Works Minister Fadillah Yusof.
Fadillah, who is also senior minister of infrastructure said this is one of the proposals put forward in negotiations with the Transport Ministry to resolve the problem caused by overloaded vehicles.
He said to date, proceeds from the road tax have been put into the consolidation fund under the Finance Ministry for development purposes including for the maintenance of Federal roads provided through the government’s operating budget.
“However, the existing provisions for road maintenance received from the consolidation fund is not enough.
“The Works Ministry, therefore, recommends that certain percentage of road tax be put into the trust account for road maintenance purposes,” he told Bernama.
The proposal was raised at a press conference after he presented the Completion Contractor Certificates to 39 recipients today.
At the event, he also witnessed the ‘I promise Zero Potholes’ which is a Public Works Department (PWD) initiative and six concessionaire companies for Federal roads to further strengthen the ministry's commitment on the delivery of road maintenance services.
Fadillah said it is difficult to ascertain who was responsible for the damage caused by these vehicles, in contrast to damage caused by utility repair works.
“If it is due to the work of utilities they have to pay a deposit to PWD, we will either recover from the deposit or until the contractor repairs the damage done and adheres to the standards, PWD will be happy to return the deposit.
“But apart from utilities, it is a bit difficult for us to identify the source which caused the damage, whether it is a lorry or what, this is a very complicated matter in terms of making claims,” he said.
He said through the ‘zero potholes’ programme launched since 2016, he was committed to resolving the problem of potholes within 24 hours of discovering it or receiving complaints about temporary repairs, or within three days for permanent repairs.
In another development, he said the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) Technical Committee had held a recent three-day meeting and concluded several matters concerning Sarawak and Petronas’ collaboration.
These include, among others, the party responsible for exploration and leading oil and gas search operations on and off the coast of Sarawak, he said.
Bernama

Malaysia and Singapore to decide on ‘travel bubble’ passenger categories

Malaysiakini

Malaysia and Singapore are set to announce which passenger categories will be allowed to travel between the two neighbouring countries.
During his Covid-19 briefing today, Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah shared that the categories were being determined.
“Discussions with Singapore have moved beyond the preliminary stage.
“Maybe we will determine which groups we will allow (to travel between the countries). God-willing we will announce this soon,” he said when asked about the progress of the ministry’s travel bubble discussions with several countries.
Aside from Singapore, Malaysia is also considering allowing travel to and from Brunei, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Today, Noor Hisham stressed that talks with the latter five nations remain at early stages with no implementation date in sight.
“We are still discussing and we have yet to set (a date) for implementation [...]
“We need to look at the current situation in these countries, and also (what) standard operating procedure (SOP) can be used for both countries,” he explained.
For a travel bubble between two countries to be established, they need to decide on a common SOP. - Mkini

'Kawan tetap kawan' - Anwar meets Guan Eng amid PM candidate impasse

Malaysiakini

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng met with Anwar Ibrahim at the latter's office in Petaling Jaya amid the stalemate on who should be named as Pakatan Harapan Plus' prime minister candidate.
Posting a photograph of the meeting on his Instagram page this evening, the PKR president's caption included the hashtag, “#kawantetapkawan (friends will be friends).”
“Remaining together to strengthen the 'muafakat' (consensus),” he said.
DAP's ties with Anwar showed signs of strain when the party backed the proposal for Dr Mahathir Mohamad, 95, to return as prime minister for the third time.
According to the arrangement, Anwar would be appointed as deputy prime minister and succeed Mahathir in six months.
DAP and Amanah argued this is because Mahathir, unlike Anwar, possessed the required support from lawmakers both in East and West Malaysia to wrest back Putrajaya, which Harapan lost to Perikatan Nasional (PN) through a political coup.
However, PKR has been adamant that Anwar should be named as the prime minister candidate.
The impasse witnessed another twist when Mahathir suggested that Warisan president Shafie Apdal become the prime minister while Anwar and the nonagenarian's son Mukhriz Mahathir serve as deputies.
Earlier, Malaysiakini quoted a PKR source as claiming that his party rejected this proposal as well, insisting that it should be the first option of Anwar as prime minister and Mukhriz as number two.
"We wanted option one (Anwar-Mukhriz) all along. We had rejected option two (Mahathir-Anwar).
"To us, there is no option three (Shafie-Anwar, Mukhriz). We did not and will not discuss the matter," he added.
Whereas, another source revealed that Harapan would hold a presidential council meeting next week to discuss the Shafie (below) option.
DAP had urged the presidential council to meet ahead of the next Parliament sitting, which is scheduled to commence on July 13.
"We are trying to get a date for the presidential council meeting sometime next week," a source close to the Harapan secretariat told Malaysiakini.
The upcoming Parliament session could witness fireworks with PAS submitting a motion of confidence for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, which might prove to be a double-edged sword.
This came amid speculation that the opposition would seek to table a no-confidence motion against the leader of the PN government, who has a razor-thin majority of three seats in the Lower House.
On the other hand, Muhyiddin has submitted a motion to replace Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Mohd Yusof and his deputy Nga Kor Ming.
National news agency Bernama had quoted GPS parliamentary chief whip Fadillah Yusof as stating that a candidate for the speaker post has been identified but declined to reveal a name.
Speculation has been rife that Umno lawmaker Azalina Othman Said could be one of the frontrunners for the post. - Mkini

Covid-19: Five new cases, no deaths

Malaysiakini

CORONAVIRUS | There were five new cases of Covid-19 as of noon today with nine recoveries, bringing the total number of active cases to 81.
All new cases today involved Malaysians, three of whom were imported cases.
The two local infections were detected during pre-referral screenings at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Sabah.
Overall there are 8,648 cases in total.
No new deaths were reported, with the death toll still standing at 121.
Two of the active cases are under intensive care and require ventilators, said health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
Meanwhile, the Sri Petaling cluster now has only two active cases left.
This was the largest cluster of infections which had 3,375 cases in total at its peak. - Mkini