1. MIHAS 2019 to attract biggest number of exhibitors
  2. Proton X70 gets 200-300 bookings per day
  3. Proton, Perodua to drive SUV sales in Malaysia – analysts
  4. Government freezes toll hikes for all highways
  5. EPF i-Akaun utilisation up 83.45 per cent to 11.09 million in Q318

MIHAS 2019 to attract biggest number of exhibitors
The Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS) 2019 is expected to attract the biggest number of exhibitors in the event’s history. The event is scheduled to be held from April 3 to 6, 2019. Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) deputy chief executive officer Datuk Wan Latiff Wan Musa said that around 1,000 companies are expected to participate at the 16th edition of MIHAS, dubbed the world’s largest halal trade fair. “MIHAS 2018 attracted over 778 exhibitors from 32 countries and 21,000 visitors globally. It proved to be successful by generating over RM1.52 billion in sales, an increase of 50.49 per cent compared with MIHAS 2017,” he told Bernama in an interview.

Proton X70 gets 200-300 bookings per day
The Proton X70, the new sport utility vehicle (SUV) introduced by Proton Holdings, in partnership with China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, has received about 200 to 300 bookings each day since it was officially launched two weeks ago. Proton Edar Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Rashid Musa said over 60 per cent of the bookings had been for the premium variant, indicating that buyers were attracted to the higher features and equipment. The national carmaker has reported over 15,000 bookings after the long pre-launch campaign for its first-ever SUV model. Proton and Geely plan to start manufacturing the right-hand-drive (RHD) version at Proton’s existing plant in Tanjung Malim, Perak, as completely knocked down (CKD) next year with an investment of RM1.2 billion. Datuk Abdul Rashid said while the Tanjung Malim plant was being upgraded as RHD production home for the SUV, Proton could sell as many X70 CBU units as allowed under approved permits while waiting for the CKD line to be ready around October 2019.

Meanwhile, analysts believe the introduction of the X70, and the upcoming Perodua SUV could double the SUV segment market share in Malaysia next year. Automotive analyst and automotive news portal Funtasticko.net editor Shamsul Yunos said this could help to lift SUV sales in the country which currently lagged behind the global average. “The SUV segment in Malaysia stands at about 15 per cent of the total industry volume (TIV) compared with a global average of 30 per cent. It goes as high as 40 per cent in some markets.

Putrajaya freezes toll rates for all highways
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced today that the government will maintain existing toll rates at all expressways in the country for 2019. In a statement disclosing the Cabinet decision from December 12, he said the move will cover all vehicle classes on the country’s 21 highways eligible to increased toll rates next year, at a cost of RM994.43 million to taxpayers’ monies. When tabling Budget 2019 in November, Lim had announced the moratorium on toll rate increases for intracity highways only. “The comprehensive toll hike freeze for 21 highways across the country for 2019, the toll hike freeze for buses on 8 additional highways, along with the abolition of motorcycle tolls for the Penang Bridge (First Penang Bridge), the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge (Second Penang Bridge) and the Second Link in Johor beginning  January 1, 2019, will cost the government RM994.43 million next year for the benefit of all Malaysians,” said Lim. The Cabinet has also agreed to freeze toll hikes for buses on eight separate highways with an estimated cost of RM1.68 million.

EPF i-Akaun utilisation up 83.45 per cent to 11.09 million in Q318
The usage of Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) flagship electronic service, i-Akaun, surged 83.45 per cent to 11.09 million in the third quarter of 2018 (Q3 2018) versus 6.04 million in the same period a year ago. The retirement fund said its multiple electronic and self-service channels continued to record satisfactory growth, at a time when physical visits to the counter and kiosks recorded a reduction. “This is in line with our strategic thrust to have no less than 80 per cent of our members to use our self service channels. “In order for us to respond to the evolving needs of our members for seamless online transactions, several more enhancements will be introduced to our online touchpoints, particularly e-Pengeluaran, which will see end-to-end solutions to members’ withdrawal process in addition to the new and improved features,” it said. During the quarter under review, the total number of approved applications for all withdrawals increased 6.93 per cent to 616,835 from 576,836 in Q3 2017. The amount withdrawn, however, decreased slightly to RM11.52 million from RM11.68 million recorded in the corresponding period last year. At end-September, the number of EPF members totalled 14,091,141 out of which 7,196,502 were active contributors, with 138,376 newly registered members. The quarter under review also saw an increase of 10.74 per cent in the number of newly registered employers to 17,791 from 16,065 in Q3 2017, bringing the total number of registered employers as at end September 2018 to 504,090. In tandem with the increase in membership, the EPF recorded an 11.56 per cent increase in contributions received in the third quarter to RM16.91 billion from RM15.16 billion recorded in the same quarter last year, bringing the total accumulated members’ contributions to RM785.59 billion, up 9.72 per cent, from RM715.97 billion achieved in Q3 2017.