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GLC/GLIC Disaster Response Network extends COVID-19 assistance

KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — The Government-Linked Companies (GLCs) and Government-Linked Investment Companies (GLICs) Disaster Response Network (GDRN), together with various partners, is working and coordinating GLCs and GLICs’ support in assisting the Ministry of Health (MoH) in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The GDRN is managed by a Joint-Secretariat led by Yayasan Hasanah (YH) (a foundation under Khazanah Nasional Bhd) and Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM), GDRN said in a statement today.

“The collective early contributions stand at RM40 million from several GLCs, GLICs and private sector entities to support the various humanitarian and medical-related initiatives,” it said.

Of the RM40 million, RM17 million has been pledged directly to the GDRN to support MoH to purchase medical supplies, Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and ventilators.

The companies pledging to GDRN towards MoH support are Affin Bank Bhd, CIMB Bank Bhd, Retirement Fund (Incorporated) (KWAP), Permodalan Nasional Bhd, Sime Darby Property Bhd, and Pharmaniaga.

Other companies that have made their pledges include Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB), Telekom Malaysia, TIME dotcom Bhd, Yayasan Hasanah, Yayasan Sime Darby, and Yayasan UEM.

It said the RM17 million allocation will be primarily focused on the provisions of medical supplies which include PPEs and ventilators to meet the needs of MoH, institutional hospitals and the public.

The coordination and implementation of procurement, handling, warehousing and distribution will be done through PharmaNiaga Bhd, it said.

Yayasan Hasanah managing director Shahira Ahmed Bazari said the support needed to be better coordinated to avoid duplication of efforts and redundancy of supplies.

“We hope that this platform will enable a more streamlined approach to assist MoH and the nation during this difficult time.

“Currently YH is coordinating the efforts with GLCs and GLICs under the banner of the GDRN and welcome the private sector to also extend their support towards this joint efforts,” said Shahira.

In addition, several GDRN members had early on implemented several relief support totalling approximately RM23 million and these include distribution of food supplies, hygiene kits and medical equipment to hospitals, including district health clinics, universities which are still housing students on campus, and the Surveillance Centre managed by the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA). 

Several GDRN members have also mobilised their volunteers.

GDRN’s commitment to support the fight against COVID-19 will continue beyond the Movement Control Order (MCO) period as it plans to assist the vulnerable and bottom 40 per cent household income (B40) groups who have been impacted by COVID-19 in the longer term. 

This is in line with the purpose of the GDRN’s formation, which is to ensure a holistic response in the short, medium and long term in times of disasters as witnessed by its support across the country from 2013 until 2019.

While efforts through GDRN and by individual GLC, GLIC, as well as the private sector will continue, it welcomes contribution from others.

Interested parties/organisations who wish to contribute via GDRN and YH can contact YH Community development and humanitarian disaster relief head Anita Ahmad (6019-2782707, email: anita.ahmad@hasanah.org.my) and TM and GDRN Secretariat head, corporate responsibility and external stakeholders management head, Izad Ismail (6019-3366035, email: izad@tm.com.my).

The GDRN was created in 2013 through the Putrajaya Committee for GLC High Performance (PCG) with Khazanah Nasional Bhd serving as its secretariat. 

The network was deployed between 2013 and 2016 in various relief and reconstruction works, especially during major floods in Kelantan, Pahang, and Johor. 

The GDRN Secretariat is led by TM, as PCG successor entity, since 2014.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

MARGMA to donate 19 mln gloves to govt

KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — The Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA) has pledged to donate 19 million medical gloves to the Malaysian government in the race against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement today, its president Denis Low said these include the many batches of gloves contributed by association members to hospitals, police stations and local authorities within their respective vicinities in the last few days.

“Our members were given approval to operate as essential services sector at 50 per cent production capacity and this had led to a shortfall of gloves around the world.

“We urge the government to allow the rubber glove industry to operate at 100 per cent so that we can meet the surge in demand for rubber gloves from many parts of the world,” he said, expressing hope that the epidemic will be contained and arrested quickly in Malaysia and other countries.

The donors include Smart Glove Corporation Sdn Bhd, Top Glove Corporation Bhd, YTY Group, Kossan Latex Industries (M) Sdn Bhd, Hartalega Holdings Bhd and 14 other manufacturers.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Import duty and sales tax exemption on face masks for domestic market

KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has approved the import duty and sales tax exemption on face masks for the domestic market.

The government is cognisant of the difficulties faced by the rakyat in obtaining face masks due to the sharp rise in demand, said its Minister, Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz.

“The public is encouraged to avoid excessive purchases to ensure adequate supply for all,” he said in a statement here, today.

In addition, to ensure sufficient supply in the domestic market, the government has imposed an export ban on face masks, he added.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Malaysian banks resilient enough to weather storm in 2020 – RAM Rating

KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — RAM Rating Services Bhd expects Malaysian banks are resilient enough to weather escalating headwinds on both the domestic and global fronts which pose greater downside risks to their performance this year.

Its co-head of financial institution ratings, Wong Yin Ching believed that banks have strong fundamentals and prudent risk management to weather the storm.

In a statement today, the credit rating agency said while it has maintained a stable outlook on the local banking sector this year, banks are facing heightened uncertainties and challenges in the still-evolving economic landscape. 

These include loan expansion to moderate to between 1.0 per cent and 2.0 per cent from  +3.9 per cent last year, asset quality indicators to weaken with a gross impaired loan (GIL) as well as credit cost ratios increase.

In the meantime, capital buffers to remain sturdy, while funding as well as liquidity to stay healthy and softer profitability amid slower credit growth, compressed net interest margin (NIM) and heftier credit losses.

“We expect banks to closely monitor their credit exposures amid the present challenging scenario and envisage a pick-up in rescheduling and restructuring (R&R) activities,” RAM’s co-head of financial institution ratings, Sophia Lee said.

In light of COVID-19 impacts on certain sectors and the collapse of oil prices, fresh risks may emanate from the oil and gas sector as the steep drop in oil prices threatens to derail recovery charted by the industry in the last two years.

Apart from pressures on asset quality, RAM Rating noted that Malaysian banks’ loan growth has been dwindling even before the onset of challenges brought on by COVID-19.

“For now, we have pencilled in loan growth of between 1.0 per cent and 2.0 per cent for 2020 compared with +3.9 per cent in 2019 but we highlight downside risks to our forecast given the evolving nature of the current environment,” said Lee.

In the event economic conditions worsen drastically, RAM Rating foresee that it could be challenging for the banking system to achieve even a 1.0 per cent loan growth this year.

Looking ahead, the credit rating agency said topline pressure and potentially heavier impairment charges amid the current environment could dent banks’ earnings this year. 

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Sunway Malls offers 14-day rent free for its non-essential retailers

KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — Sunway Malls  is offering 14-day rent free to its non-essential retailers following the enforcement of the Movement Control Order (MCO) from March 18-31. 

The move is expected to benefit retailers at Sunway Pyramid, Sunway Velocity, Sunway Carnival, Sunway Putra, Sunway Big Box Retail Park, Sunway Giza and Sunway Citrine.

Sunway Malls and Theme Parks chief executive officer HC Chan said Sunway Malls was aware of the tremendous strain on the retailers in terms of revenue and cash-flow due to the mandatory trading cessation of 14 days in the government’s move to halt the spread of the COVID-19.

“The global scale of this outbreak is both unprecedented and uncharted. At times like these, everyone is losing, and each of us has the responsibility to shoulder and share the pain.

“As such, this grant is expected to bring a certain degree of comfort and relief to Sunway Malls’ affected retailers,” he said in a statement today.

Chan said the mall group would also undertake steps to ease credit control for retailers in this difficult period.

He added that Sunway Malls is still monitoring the situation closely and reviewing the developments as it unfolds.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

COVID-19: GLCs donate RM60 mln to MoH, tax deduction approved for contributions

KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 — Government-linked companies (GLCs) have to-date donated about RM60 million in the form of medicine, medical equipment and personal protective equipment to the Ministry of Health (MOH).

The corporate sector is encouraged to emulate the generosity of GLCs in assisting national efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Aziz said.

“The government welcomes the generosity of Malaysians, both the rakyat and the corporate sector, in contributing and donating towards addressing the COVID-19 outbreak,” he said in a statement today.

In this regard, the Finance Ministry (MOF) has approved a tax deduction for contributions and donations in cash and in kind by individuals and corporates to the COVID-19 Fund and the MOH, he said.

Tengku Zafrul also said that preparations for the Second Economic Stimulus Package are underway and will take into account various stakeholders’ feedback to ensure the rakyat’s well-being, sustainability of private sector companies and the nation’s economic resilience in facing the challenges of COVID-19 and global uncertainties.

This would be in addition to the RM20 billion stimulus package announced in February.

The public is also invited to provide feedback and ideas for the upcoming economic stimulus package through the official MOF portal at http://pre2020.treasury.gov.my/, he added.

He said a number of initiatives announced in February are progressing smoothly.

Among them are service tax exemption for hotels effective March 1 and restructuring and rescheduling of loans by financial institutions for impacted borrowers, especially small and medium enterprises and B40 individuals. A soft loan fund worth RM3.3 billion has been provided by Bank Negara Malaysia.

In addition, key measures planned to take effect on  April 1 are on schedule for implementation.

“These include the proposed deferment of monthly income tax instalments for the tourism industry, the reduction in the Employees Provident Fund employee contribution and the discount on electricity. Up to March 23, 2020, a total of RM1.7 billion has been disbursed to relevant ministries and agencies, out of the total PRE2020 (Extra Economic Stimulus Package) direct government allocation of RM3.2 billion.”

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

COVID-19: 18 new positive cases, one just returned from Iran

PUTRAJAYA, March 9 — Eighteen new confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported as at noon on Monday, bringing to 117 the total number of cases in the country, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said one of the cases, Case 101, involved a man who had just returned from Iran.

“The man, along with his business partner, went to Iran from Feb 20 to 27, this year. He was identified as symptomatic on March 5 and confirmed positive for COVID-19 on March 8.

“The man has been given treatment and admitted to the isolation ward of the Tuanku Jaafar Hospital Seremban in Negeri Sembilan,” he told a press conference on COVID-19 situation at the Ministry of Health here today.

Dr Noor Hisham said the close contacts for the 18 new cases were being identified for further investigation and sample-taking.

He said of the total, 19 cases were detected among patients under investigation (PUI) for the COVID-19 infection, 96 cases involving close contacts and two others were cases from the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Mission to bring home Malaysians from Wuhan, China.

“The two cases reported as being treated at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) yesterday are still there and in need of breathing ventilators,” he said.

While refusing to disclose whether the two patients were in critical condition, Dr Noor Hisham said they are still in the ICU at the Sungai Buloh Hospital and Sultanah Aminah Hospital, respectively.

He said Malaysia is now experiencing the second wave of COVID-19, which began on Feb 27, with only six cases from Case 23 to Case 117, were reported to have involved PUI and those with history of travelling abroad.

“Other cases involved clusters consisting of close contacts and related to one another,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said the Health Ministry was also conducting COVID-19 surveillance to detect sporadic and local cases in Malaysia through patients with influenza-like-illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) that had no history of travelling to countries affected by COVID-19 or contact with COVID-19 positive cases.

As of March 9, a total of 574 samples had been tested and so far no samples were detected positive for COVID-19 infection.

“Based on current information, no COVID-19 sporadic cases have been detected through this surveillance activity,” he said.

While repeating his advice to the public to always maintain a high level of hygiene and avoid going to crowded places purportedly infected by the virus, he said the two easy steps were proven effective in preventing transmission of diseases spread by respiratory droplets.

He added that Malaysia is also monitoring the COVID-19 situation in the United States, France, Switzerland and Spain.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)