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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Putrajaya’s policies weighing down Chinese businesses

KUALA LUMPUR - A majority of Chinese businesses listed government policies as the number one cause for their decline throughout 2015, the Association of Chinese Chamber of Commerce Malaysia (ACCCIM) said today.

The group said its survey found that the majority of its members saw Putrajaya's introduction of new regulations, subsidy cuts and the still controversial Goods And Services Tax (GST) as burdensome and responsible for driving up the cost of doing business amid a challenging economic climate.

"Many businesses have put forth their grouses, mainly in relation to factors such as rising costs of doing business in Malaysia, and the ever increasing compliance requirements such as the Competition Act 2011 and the GST Act 2014, legal and regulatory compliance have added to the burden of doing business in Malaysia," the group's report said.

The survey was done for the second half of 2015. Sentiments indicated in this survey were mostly the same as the first half with most respondents expressing pessimism about the economic outlook for last year and 2016.

The report also found that most respondents recorded sluggish growth in 2015.

Malaysia recorded a 4.5 per cent growth in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Bank Negara Malaysia, exceeding expectation as the country faced headwinds triggered by the global energy price crisis and a weakened ringgit.

Despite the central bank’s statistics, ACCCIM said 68 per cent of respondents saw deterioration in the economy in second half of 2015 with 45 per cent blaming it on government policies.

“Malaysian businesses have indeed been affected by government measures in recent years as the government continues with its initiatives to reform the nation's subsidies and price control mechanism.

“Subsidies and price controls have been a normal feature in broad range of products, such as petrol, natural gas, electricity, cooking oil, sugar, toll charges and bus fares… the reforms have come at a time when the Malaysian economy is facing significant external and internal challenges, thus resulting in significant adverse effect on the costs of doing business in Malaysia,” the group said in its report.

Increase in operating costs and prices of raw materials was seen by most of the survey respondents as the second biggest cause for their business slide, with the GST and the depreciation of the ringgit said to have pushed prices up.

“These factors are in addition to the other issues arising from requirements introduced previously in areas such as the 1 per cent point increase for EPF contribution, the implementation of the Competition Act 2010 and the minimum wage requirement, rise in toll rates of certain highways in Malaysia,” it said.

Subsequently, majority of respondents felt inflation would remain high throughout 2016.

Inflation jumped to one percentage point to about 4 per cent for the past two months, according to banks and research data.

ACCCIM president Datuk Ter Leong Yap at the presentation of the group's survey here said the government needs to implement strategies to address the problems.

“The ACCCIM survey results have repeatedly shown that the Malaysian business community continues to hope for the government to introduce and implement pro-business economic policies and high efficient monitoring system, co-operate with the businesses, reduce the cost of doing business, stimulate consumption and promote economic activity,” he said.

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