Monday, May 4, 2009

How about property liberalisation? 什么时候要开放购置房地产条例?

Adapted from malaysianinsider.com
MAY 4 – Recently, the Government announced a few major decisions that have been positive and I hope that there are more to come.

On the economic front, the decision to scrap the 30 per cent bumiputra equity requirement for the 27 services subs-sectors and also to allow a higher foreign equity participation for insurers and investment banks would augur well to attract more investment.

Even though some may argue that these are only ‘baby steps’, they are steps in the right direction to raise Malaysia competitiveness in the global business front.

We should not believe, however, that liberalising through removal of the equity component requirement would open the floodgates of investment. More still needs to be done to remove the bureaucracy of doing business, improving the efficiency of the civil service and etc.

In view of the gloomy economic climate, the Government should also consider liberalising or relaxing the property sector. Given its link to the other 160 industry sub-sectors, the property industry plays a pivotal role to breathe more life and activities in the local economy with its multiplier effect.

This is evident from the Government’s allocation of funds in the first stimulus package to build more low-cost houses through Syarikat Perumahan Negara Berhad.

With lower property sales, construction slowdown and deferment of new launches and huge inventory built up, some developers are facing difficulties and bracing for more hard times.

The few major areas relating to the national housing policy that may require some amendments or improvement are the applicability of the bumiputra discount, varying range of quota needed to be reserved and the mechanism for automatic release from bumiputra to non-bumiputra.

In parliament, I have raised the need to review and abolish the discount for the purchase of luxury properties by bumiputra.

Typically the bumiputra discount for property ranges from 5 to 15 per cent. The discount is intended to make property affordable to bumiputras. However, discounts provided for luxury property is not equitable to the rest of the buyers as it may result in non-bumiputra buyers having to purchase property at inflated price.

Example, for a RM1million condominium in Klang Valley, a 5 per cent discount would cost the developer RM50,000, equivalent to a low cost house. If there are 1,000 units being launched and 30 per cent are reserved for the bumiputra quota, thus the discounts on 300 units cost the developer RM15mil! The cost would be higher if it is a massive township development or if the discount is 15 per cent!

Providing discounts to some buyers would decrease the margin of the developer and hence developer would think of other ways to compensate for the margin loss or pass the cost to the other customers. This results in inflated purchase price.

On Nov 25, 2008, the Minister of the Housing and Local Government announced that they are in discussion on a proposal to scrap discounts for bumiputra who buy luxury property valued at RM500,000 and above. Hopefully the discussion is still in process and any amendments would be announced in due course.

Giving discounts to ensure that the people can have access to affordable housing is commendable and efforts to bridge the gap of property ownership between races promotes racial harmony but it should not be extended to luxury property. It creates feeling of unfairness and also potential conflict as a non-bumiputra buying a property worth RM250,000 is not entitled to any discount but a bumiputra buying a property worth RM1million is given a discount of at least RM50,000, which is 20 per cent value of the property costing RM250,000.

Furthermore, it is a fact that bumiputra lots usually fetch lower prices due to the restrictions on who it can be sold to, which makes the discount counter-productive. It does not allow the bumiputra to enjoy the maximum investment growth of a property when they buy a bumiputra lot.

The Ministry has also announced that they are discussing with the state governments to expedite the process of releasing unsold bumiputra quota units to the open market. Sometimes, bumiputra lots are not attractive as the buyer market is limited, resulting in unsold units.

Developers can apply to the state governments for permission to release unsold bumiputra quota units after six months or upon reaching 50 per cent construction stage, but the units are released gradually. The process can be so slow that the units might have completed but the release has not been obtained.

Worse still, some states even impose penalties for releasing unsold quota units, resulting in even higher cost to the developer. It would not be inconceivable that developers would have factored all these costs, again inflating the selling price of the property.

For example, it is possible that some of the developer lots sold after project completion are sometimes bumiputra reserve lot that have been released, and their price is usually higher to take into account the penalty paid and the holding cost.

Certain states impose a condition that the released units can subsequently be resold only to a bumiputra.

All these conditions can lead to unsold units and having too many empty houses in a project would diminish the growth value of the homeowners in the area.

There is also a range of quotas varying from state to state, from 30 per cent to 70 per cent in certain areas. While having a high quota may seem to be justifiable depending on the state demographics, it would invariably lead to the developer raising the base price to take into account both the impact of quota and discount that needs to be given, leading to inflated prices, especially for the non-bumiputra buyers.

There are also contradictions between the Federal Government’s initiatives to attract foreign investors and state rules.

The abolition of Foreign Investment committee approval for foreigners purchasing properties priced at more RM250,000 and the exemption of property gain tax would create foreigner interest in the local property market.

However, state governments still impose their own rules on foreign property sales and purchase, resulting in conflicting signals to investors.

Even though opening the property market to foreigners would enable to raise the profile and also spur the growth of the Malaysian property market, the minimum price for eligibility should be raised to at least RM1million, depending on state.

This is to ensure that we attract quality investors and avoid forcing Malaysians to compete with foreigners to buy a house for themselves as the amount of RM250,000 is too low for certain areas like the Klang Valley.

In summary, a bumiputra discount for property at a certain value should be maintained to ensure affordability of home ownership but a better policy is to not confine the discount to one race or religion.

We have already come so far since independence and I am sure anyone would agree that the Government should help the needy regardless of race or religion.

Consistent with this, discount should be given to every first home buyer limited to a certain value, maybe properties below RM500,000 depending on state, but not limited to race.

As bumiputras form the majority in Malaysia, they will still form the majority that would be entitled. That way the policy would be more equitable and fair, ensuring all Malaysians enjoy the benefits of development.

At the same time providing affordable property can help to fulfil one of the basic human needs and ensure that those starting out to work or middle income group are able to own homes.

The quota system and timeline to release the units should also be streamlined so that developers won’t have to price their properties higher just to offset the cost incurred for discounts, the quota system and potential holding costs.

Meanwhile, even though encouraging foreign buyers is essential to make the property market more vibrant, the needs of the citizen should not be neglected.
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最近,政府宣布了数项有利政策,我希望这些利惠政策会陆续有来。

从经济角度来看,放宽27个服务领域的30%土著股权条件,以及允许外资拥有更多保险及银行股权的措施,将吸引更多外资。

虽然有人说这些只是婴儿学步,不过,这是我国提高国际商业竞争力的正确途径。

我们应该知道,这些措施未必保证外资将涌进我国,反之,我国还需要致力减少繁文缛节、提高公共服务效率等,才有可能达到预期目标。

以目前低迷的经济状况来看,政府应该考虑放宽或开放房地产业领域。

房地产业和160个下游工业息息相关,这个领域的多重效应,可以让本地经济活跃起来。政府在第一套刺激经济配套中,通过国家房屋公司建造更多廉价屋,就是一个证明。

部分发展商正因为产业销售量低、建筑进展放缓、新产业计划延迟及产业滞销的问题而苦苦支撑。因此,当局应该修改国家房屋政策中数项主要条例,特别是土著折扣、土著固打和将土著固打自动公开让非土著购买的机制。

我曾在国会提出,当局有必要重新检讨和取消土著购买豪华房屋也同样享有折扣的条例。

一般上,土著购置房屋享有5%至10%折扣,这些折扣的用意是让土著有能力拥有本身的房屋。不过,豪华房屋的土著折扣对非土著购屋者不公平,而且,非土著必须因此付出已被抬高的房屋价格。

举个例子,在巴生谷地区售价1百万令吉的共管公寓,5%的折扣大概是5万令吉,等于一间廉价屋的价格。假设,发展商推出1千间房屋,30%保留给土著固打,那300间保留给土著的房屋折扣就高达1千500万令吉!如果是大规模的房屋发展计划,土著折扣还高达15%!

由于为部分购屋者提供折扣会削减发展商的盈利,因此,发展商可能会通过另外的方法来减低亏损,包括将成本转嫁购屋者,因而抬高屋价。

2008年11月25日,房屋及地方政府部长拿督斯里黄家泉宣布,该部将讨论是否要取消土著购买50万令吉以上豪宅时所享有的折扣。我希望该部继续进行这项讨论,并修正这项条例。

为人民提供购屋折扣,让居者有其屋的措施是值得鼓励的,这项措施也可以拉近屋主的种族比例,从中促进种族和谐,不过购置豪宅不应也享有折扣。这不但会让人觉得不公平,而且也可能引起异议。这道理显而易见,非土著购买25万令吉的房屋没有任何折扣,不过购买1百万令吉房产的土著却可以获得至少5万令吉折扣,等于25万令吉房产的20%。

再说,因为土著保留单位的转售对象有所限制,土著保留单位一般上只能低价转售,导致土著折扣达不到预期效果,即土著不能从土著保留单位的投资中,获得最大的投资回酬。

房屋及地方政府部也宣布,该部正与州政府讨论将售不出的土著单位公开发售的可能性。实际上,基于土著单位的对象有限,一些单位乏人问津。

目前,发展商可以在发售房屋6个月,或建筑工程达到50%后,向州政府申请公开发售土著保留单位,不过必须逐步发售。不过,一些单位已经完成,却因为必须逐步发售,拖延了公开发售的程序。

更糟糕的是,一些州政府甚至向公开发售土著保留单位的发展商征收罚款,加重了发展商的成本。如果发展商将这些成本计算在内,进而提高房屋售价,也不是什么令人惊奇的事情。

举个例子,一些发展商在产业计划完成后所售卖的单位可能是公开发售的土著单位,这些单位的价格通常会比较高,原因就是将罚款和其他费用都计算在内。

一些州属甚至设下条件,规定这些公开发售的单位只可以转售给土著。上述条件将导致房屋滞销,空置房屋太多,影响了有关产业的成长潜能。

此外,每州都有不同的固打,一些地区的固打从30%至70%不等。因为当局是根据人口比例来调整固打,发展商可能将设定固打的影响和土著折扣计算在内,结果售价已被抬高,特别是非土著的房屋单位。

另一方面,中央政府吸引外资的措施,可能和州政府的条例有所冲突。

譬如,外资购买25万令吉以下的房屋可以不需获得外资委员会批准,并可豁免产业收益税的措施,可提高外资对我国产业市场的兴趣。

不过,州政府仍在外资买卖产业的程序上仍执行各自州属所定下的条例,引起投资者的混淆。

虽然对外资开放产业市场可以刺激我国产业发展,不过,政府应该根据各州情况,将外资置产的最低限额提高到至少100万令吉。

如此一来,我们可以吸引到有素质的投资者之余,也避免国人与外资竞相置产,尤其是在巴生谷一带,25万令吉的最低限额确实太低。

简言之,土著享有的房屋折扣固然应该保留,不过最好的政策是不要限制某个族群或宗教获得折扣。

我们在独立后风雨同路多年,我相信,所有国人会同意政府应该不分种族或宗教地协助有需要的人士。

有鉴于此,政府应该为所有首次购置房屋的国人提供折扣,譬如购买50万令吉或以下房屋的首次购屋者,不论种族,都可获得折扣。

在这项措施下,基于土著是我国最大族群,因此土著仍是享有折扣的最大族群,如此一来政府会显得更公平和平等,并确保所有国人享受发展利益。

与此同时,提供可负担的产业可满足国人基本需求,确保工作一族或中等收入群都能居者有其屋。

固打限制和开放土著单位公开发售的程序必须精简,发展商才不会将折扣等费用计算在内而导致屋价抬高。

虽然鼓励外资置产对产业市场很重要,不过,当局也不应该忽略国人的需要。

2 comments:

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