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☕️ Auditor-General 2022 Report - how our government spent our money
Demand for instant noodles hit an all-time high in 2022, thanks to inflation. Better consumer protection for airline customers. Build Your Dreams (BYD) is becoming Tesla’s worst nightmare.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
Western companies made USD18 bil in profits last year in Russia but they won’t be able to access it anytime soon. As part of counter-sanctions against the West, Russia has imposed a dividend payout ban on businesses from “unfriendly countries”, which included the UK, US, and EU. For example, PepsiCo and Philip Morris have USD775 mil and USD718 mil trapped in Russia, respectively. The USD18 bil pales in comparison to the amount the West has frozen on Russian assets — USD300 bil, about half of the USD640 bil Russia had in its gold and forex reserves.
Global demand for instant noodles grew for the seventh straight year, hitting an all-time high of 121.2 bil servings last year, up 2.6% from 2021, according to the World Instant Noodles Association. Last year, when food inflation spiked due to inflation, this prompted consumers to turn to the more affordable option, which is instant noodles. China, including Hong Kong, was the top instant noodle market last year, followed by Indonesia, India, Vietnam and Japan.
24 Sep 2182 — mark your calendar, that is, if you are still alive. NASA is keeping an eye on asteroid Bennu, which is bigger than the Empire State Building and could collide with Earth on this date, or in the words of Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, the Earth and Bennu will “kiss each other”. The potential collision will release 1,400 megatons of energy, which is more than 90,000 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb released on Hiroshima. Thankfully, the probability of this kissing event is very slim — about 1 in 2,700 Bennu recently made the news as NASA recently brought home about 250g of samples from this asteroid.
3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Better consumer protection for airline customers
The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) has announced plans to implement the enhanced Malaysian Aviation Consumer Protection Code 2016 (MACPC) in the first quarter of 2024. The upgraded code will address key consumer concerns, including refunds, airline advertisements, and flight delays and cancellations, aligning Malaysia's aviation industry with global consumer rights protection standards. Mavcom has also developed and implemented the Airports Quality of Service at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport, and they plan to do the same at other airports in Sabah.
Highlights from the Auditor General's Report 2022
Total amount spent on subsidies in 2022 — RM62.1 bil. RM55.443 bil was charged to the federal government’s operating expenditure (opex) and RM6.67 bil was charged to the Covid-19 Trust Fund.
Subsidy for petroleum products took the lion’s share — RM45.18 billion or 81.5% of the opex allocation. Electricity subsidy, also charged to the opex, was RM4 billion. Subsidies for food aid and cooking oil amounted to RM2.47 bil.
The deficit in 2022 was recorded at RM99.482 bil or 5.6% of GDP, while the Federal Debt at the end of 2022 was RM1,079.591 bil, an increase of RM99.777 bil (10.2%).
The Federal Liabilities amounted to RM1.399 trillion, an increase of RM94.116bil or 7.2 per cent (2021: RM1.305 trillion). With our population at 33 mil as at Q4 2022, that’s RM42.4k of liabilities to be shouldered by each Malaysian.
The government also refunded RM25.72 bil of taxes in 2022, vs. RM21.84 bil in 2021.
RM13.9 bil of 1MDB borrowings were pared down last year. The amount guaranteed by the federal government stood at RM18.17 bil as at end-2022, down 43.3% from RM32.07 bil as at end-2021.
Read the full report here.
Bank Negara analyst defends 1MDB money trail report amid claims of 'Intelligent Guesswork'
In a high-profile trial related to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) analyst Adam Ariff Mohd Roslan defended his 76-page report on 1MDB transactions and money trails, rejecting claims that it was based on "intelligent guesswork." The report is crucial in the case involving former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and 1MDB. The defence argued that Adam's findings were based on opinions from documents given by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, while Adam maintained that he had enough evidence for his conclusions.
Government backs RM2 bil loan for LTAT's Boustead Plantations deal
The Malaysian Finance Ministry has agreed to provide a government guarantee for the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) to secure an RM2 bil loan to buy out the remaining shares of Boustead Plantations Bhd at RM1.55 per share, as they already control 68.01% of the company. LTAT needs this financial support to fulfil its obligations, including a debt of RM800 mil by year-end. This decision comes after their partnership with Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd fell through. It's important to note that this government guarantee is not considered a bailout as the government didn’t pay with cash. The Thais would say - same same but different.
Peruvian police have successfully saved 44 individuals from Asia
They were held captive by a criminal group from Taiwan. These captives — 43 Malaysians and one Taiwanese — were forced to conduct Macau scams - making phone calls to companies in Malaysia and Taiwan, demanding money while pretending to be police or justice officials. They had to work at night, lived in very tight spaces, and received only one meal a day. Six Taiwanese and two Peruvians were arrested in connection with this criminal operation.
The government finding ways to strengthen our beloved MYR
Malaysia is jumping onto the de-dollarization bandwagon. Malaysia is actively working to use its own currency, the ringgit, more often in international trade instead of relying heavily on the US dollar. Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim mentioned that Malaysia has already started using the ringgit when trading with some countries — China, Indonesia and Thailand. Singapore next?
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
Palestine-Israel Conflict Updates
Despite the threat from the Hamas militants of executing a captive for each home hit, Israel attacked the Gaza Strip with the fiercest air strikes in its 75-year conflict with the Palestinians. Gaza’s health ministry said Israel's retaliatory strikes had killed at least 770 people and wounded more than 4,000. On the other hand, Israel’s embassy in the US claims the death toll from Hamas’ attacks had surpassed 1,000. The victims of war — civilians. The United Nations estimates that 180,000 Gazans have been displaced.
The European Union followed the infamous playbook by Malaysian politicians — the U-turn. The bloc announced it will not suspend the payment of development aid to Palestinians after widespread criticism of an earlier announcement that it would freeze all aid payments.
A letter authored by the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee drew backlash from prominent alums and US lawmakers. The letter was co-signed by 33 student groups and stated that students “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence”. The committee’s account on Instagram was temporarily suspended after posting the letter. The group claims the suspension is “a recurring pattern of Meta's censorship of pro-Palestine messaging”.
Country Garden’s woes deepen
Chinese developer Country Garden Holdings Co. has signalled a likely maiden default and debt restructuring, highlighting the ongoing property crisis in China. The company has stated that it won't be able to meet its future offshore payment obligations, potentially triggering creditor actions. Country Garden’s debt troubles are eroding the confidence of prospective homebuyers, as reflected in the company's announcement that September contracted sales saw an 81% year-on-year decline.
The developer disclosed that it failed to make a due payment of USD60 mil related to its indebtedness. This follows its previous failure to meet initial deadlines for paying USD55.4 mil in interest on two dollar bonds.
Country Garden’s shares fell 11% in Hong Kong on Tuesday, following a 6.7% drop in the previous session.
IMF projects slower global growth in 2024
The global economy is in a gradual recovery mode following the pandemic, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and a cost-of-living crisis. However, it is not experiencing rapid growth. According to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest projections, global economic growth is expected to slow from 3.5% in 2022 to 3% this year and 2.9% next year, with a 0.1 percentage point downgrade for 2024 compared to July estimates. These growth rates remain below historical averages. In addition, headline inflation is on a decelerating trend, dropping from 9.2% in 2022 to 5.9% this year and further to 4.8% in 2024.
"Most countries aren’t likely to return inflation to the target until 2025.”
— Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas is the Economic Counsellor and the Director of Research of the IMF.
More rate hikes incoming?
South Korea’s KakaoBank wants a piece of the digital banking space in ID
Superbank, a digital bank in Indonesia, has a new investor — KakaoBank. The new investor is joining Grab, Singtel and Emtek Group to invest in Indonesia’s Superbank by acquiring a 10% stake. Superbank is believed to be launching its app to the public in 2023. KakaoBank plans to actively collaborate in developing the upcoming digital bank’s products and services.
No petrol and diesel cars in part of Stockholm starting in 2025
In a bid to crack down on pollution, the Swedish capital intends to only allow electric cars and hybrids in its finance area and main shopping drags. Stockholm could be the first major capital to introduce such a wide prohibition. The plan's potential to boost electric vehicle (EV) sales in Sweden is uncertain, with EV sales currently grappling with challenges in the face of an ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
X, formerly Twitter, redefines the “newsworthiness” of posts
The platform has revised its "Public interest expectations" policy, changing the criteria for determining which posts can remain online despite violating platform rules. Previously, only verified accounts with at least 100,000 followers were eligible for newsworthy status. However, as X now allows users to become verified by subscribing, the updated policy considers posts from "high-profile accounts" as newsworthy without specifying what defines a "high-profile" account. Troll much?
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
Build Your Dreams (BYD) is becoming Tesla’s worst nightmare. In its most recent quarter, BYD delivered 432k all-electric vehicles, putting the company within 1% of Tesla’s 435k.
Any Post Malone fans in the house? If yes, you’ll enjoy this unplugged set. Happy Hump Day!