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Developers urge Government to bring down cost of doing business [06-09-2012]  
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Property players are hoping that Budget 2013 would introduce encouraging policies or tax adjustments that allow businesses to thrive in the current local and global economic environment.

Mah Sing Group Bhd managing director Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum hopes to see new financial incentives, tax breaks or even infrastructure projects that will directly and indirectly benefit the sector as it is a key growth pillar for the economy due to its impact on more than 140 industries.

“We hope there will not be any policies or requirements which will increase the cost of doing business. At the same time, we hope for measures to reduce compliance cost, ultimately promoting the property market,” he said in a statement.

Leong explained that by reducing compliance cost, it would directly reduce the cost of doing business and the savings passed on to buyers would improve the affordability of the properties.

He suggested some measures to increase affordability such as charging tariff-based utility fees, limiting the requirement of land to be surrendered to improve the efficiency of land use and applying plot ratio instead of density to encourage smaller, more affordable units and at the same time reduce land cost per unit of property.

He also suggested reducing stamp duty so that the cost of property and home ownership could be reduced.

“We propose that the stamp duty be reduced to 0.5% for the first RM300,000, 1% between RM300,000 and RM1mil and 2% in excess of RM1mil,” he said.

He added: “Property is acknowledged as the best hedge against inflation, and people buy properties as a form of wealth preservation and not speculation. We hope that the Government would balance its approach in stimulating the property sector which is an important engine of growth for the country.”

To minimise the Government's loss of income, Leong said that maintaining a favourable real property gains tax regime could potentially increase sales and stronger growth of property and housing industry, which in turn bring in higher stamp duties due to higher transactions.

To further stimulate the property sector, Leong recommended a tax relief extended to all interest incurred on end financing for the first home.

“Alternatively, the Government could consider providing grants of up to 10% of the purchase price of affordable properties, to first-time home owners,” he said.

Leong also hoped that the Government would further ease policies to encourage foreigners to buy properties in Malaysia.

“As foreign purchasers account for only 2% of property transactions in Malaysia, this will not be a big cost to bear, and at the same time, can project a pro-investment image to the world at large,” he said.

On another note, Leong said that with the escalating pressure of higher cost of goods, the Government could consider reducing the personal income tax rate or increase personal income tax relief to raise disposable income.

“As a business friendly measure to encourage economic growth and to be in line with regional practices, we hope to see a reduction in corporate income tax as well,” he said.

It was also reported that property and plantations group Tradewinds Corp Bhd had hoped for measures to sustain domestic economic growth in the wake of the uncertain world economy.

Chairman Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas said concerted efforts were needed for Malaysia's economy to continue to expand in order to cushion the impact of the current sluggish global economy.

He noted the bearish European economy and slowing growth in China has rubbed off on the local economy.

“We've to find our own solutions (to our own problems). We should not merely rely on other countries. Unfortunately, our country is still dependent on imported goods. Hence, we should improve on our competitiveness to produce more competitive products,” he said.

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