Here’s a list of 15 policies and laws to get you excited about 2020

Soo Wern Jun
A whole slew of new laws and policies are taking effect next year, some even as early as January 1, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29 — Don’t know what to expect in 2020? Fear not! Malay Mail is here to help.

Here is a list of new laws and policies which are taking effect next year, some even as early as January 1, 2020.

Malay Mail has taken the liberty to list a few — some of which serve as reminders, while others are just plain good news. 

1. Minimum wage increase for some

Effective 2020, the minimum wage will be increased to RM1,200.

The government has decided to raise the minimum monthly wage in 57 cities and municipal councils while the minimum wage remains at RM1,100 a month for the rest of the country.

The minimum wage is applicable to all workers in the private sector except domestic service as stipulated in the Minimum Wages Order 2018.

2. Digital Tax

From January 1, 2020, a 6 per cent service tax will be implemented for digital service providers in the country.

In April, Parliament approved the Service Tax (Amendment) 2019 Bill which will introduce tax on foreign registered persons providing digital services to consumers in the country.

The digital tax is not new, as it has been adopted by countries in the region like Bangladesh, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. In the EU (European Union) countries, the VAT is their form of digital tax and is paid by the consumer at the time of purchase of a product.

For sellers, there is a choice to absorb the cost of the tax. As for buyers, at the moment, the tax seems to only affect sellers and service providers overseas.

Essentially, this tax will only apply to services offered online that require a payment made to a company that is not based in Malaysia.

This includes mobile applications that are purchased from Apple Store or Google Play store. The same goes for software, music and videos which are considered digital services that you subscribe or pay for from foreign registered companies like Spotify and Netflix.

The good news is that the majority of local e-commerce transactions involving items sold online are excluded from the tax as they are already subject to import duty and sales tax. This applies to Malaysian-made services which are already subjected to local taxation laws.

Tax defaulters can be fined up to RM50,000, imprisoned for a term of up to three years, or both, upon conviction.

3. Mandatory child car safety seats

From January 2020, the government will be making child car safety seats mandatory.

A guidebook to facilitate how the regulations will be implemented has been created by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS). This guidebook has information about identifying and installing a child restraint system (CRS — technical term for child seats).

Along with that, information on what kind of child car seat to buy, as well as what is approved with relevant United Nations regulations are also included in the guide.

No summons will be issued for the first six months of law commencement.

4. Corrupt companies, watch out

Section 17A of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act is a clause introduced last year that specifically makes companies liable for corrupt acts.

The new clause provides that a commercial organisation commits an offence if any person associated with it commits a corrupt act in order to obtain or retain business or an advantage in the conduct of business for the commercial organisation.

Section 17A of the Act will take effect in June 2020 and is said to be targeted at ‘big fish’.

5. Civil servants, take note

An RM50 increase in the Cost of Living Allowances (COLA) per month will start in 2020.

Civil servants will be allowed early redemption of Accumulated Leave (Gantian Cuti Rehat) for up to 75 days as replacement pay, for those who have at least 15 years of service.

The Public Sector Home Financing Board (LPPSA) will be offering free personal accident insurance (up to RM100,000 coverage) for two years to new government housing loan borrowers.

A special payment of RM500 will be given to civil servants Grade 56 and below, while RM250 will be paid before the end of the year (2019). This will be extended to non-pensionable veterans.

Under the Budget 2020 announcement, a one-off payment of RM500 will be given to 70,000 Malaysian Service Medal (Pingat Jasa Malaysia) owners.

6. MySalam protection plan expansion

On January 1, 2020 the national health protection scheme will be expanded to cover 45 critical illnesses and polio. Currently, it only covers 36 critical illnesses. The age range will also be expanded to cover ages 18 to 65 (instead of the current 55).

Malaysians with an annual gross income of up to RM100,000 will receive critical illnesses payments of RM4,000 and income replacements of RM50 a day when diagnosed and admitted to a government hospital.

7. Bye-bye plastic straws

Time to whip out those metal, glass, bamboo or whatever sustainable material-made straws as by January 2020, the ban on plastic straws will be enforced on traders and operators of food outlets.

Since last January, the ban had included conditions for business licences. Straws which are not made from conventional plastic will be provided as an alternative.

Exemptions will be given to the handicapped and sick who need straws and plastic items in their daily routine.

8. UUCA to go

While the AUKU (Amendment) Bill 2018 was passed in December 2018, the government has yet to replace the Act which initially prevented university students from participating in political activities on campus.

Students remain wary of their freedom of movement on campus.

According to Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching, the ministry has set up a working committee to provide input and a new content draft to replace the AUKU with a new Act by the year 2020.

9. Bill to repeal mandatory death penalty

The Bill to repeal the mandatory death penalty is expected to be tabled in Parliament in March 2020.

The findings and reports of the special committee set up to study alternative forms of punishment to the mandatory death penalty will be submitted in next month.

Currently, Malaysia still has the death penalty but has repealed a provision that makes it mandatory for 11 criminal offences.

10. Lower toll rates

Starting 2020, vehicle owners will enjoy a minimum reduction of average toll charges by 18 per cent across all PLUS highways.

As announced in Budget 2020, the discount on toll charges for the North-South Highway will save users up to RM1.13 billion.

In addition to that, the introduction of congestion charges will be lowered by up to 30 per cent of present toll rates during peak and normal hours. During off-peak hours, there will be no toll charges.

For Penang, toll rates for the Second Penang Bridge will be reduced to RM7 starting January 2020.

11. Fuel Targeted Subsidy Programme

The RM2.2 billion fuel Targeted Subsidy Programme (PSP) will start in January 2020.

Qualified cars include 1,600cc engines and below, or above that are more than 10 years old, while motorcycles must be 150cc and below (if over 150cc, they must be at least seven years old).

Luxury vehicles are excluded.

12. Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) starts for eligible recipients

The petrol subsidy is RM30 per month for car owners and RM12 per month for motorcycle owners.

Motorists who are not BSH recipients will receive a special Kad95 which allows them to enjoy a fuel subsidy at a discount of 30 cents per litre limited to 100 litres per month for cars, and 40 litres per month for motorcycles when purchasing RON95 fuel. The Kad95 will be implemented progressively during the first quarter of 2020.

This subsidy will be distributed in cash transfer, deposited into the recipient’s bank account every four months with the first payment made in April 2020 for the period of January to April 2020.

Starting next year, those who are 40 years old and single, and earning less than RM2,000 will be eligible for BSH worth RM300.

Disabled individuals aged 18 and above with monthly salaries of less than RM2,000 will be entitled to receive BSH of RM300 and automatically qualify as a recipient of the MySalam Takaful scheme.

13. Extension of Youth Housing Scheme

For youths who have yet to apply for a housing loan, the deadline has been extended from January 2020 to December 2021.

The Youth Housing Scheme (administered by Bank Simpanan Nasional) offers a 10 per cent loan guarantee through Cagamas to enable borrowers full financing and RM200 monthly instalment assistance for the first two years limited to 10,000 home units only.

14. E-wallet

To promote e-wallet use among Malaysians, the government will credit RM30 into the e-wallet of every Malaysian who is 18 years old and above, and earns below RM100,000 annually.

The money will be credited on January 1, 2020 and will be valid for two months.

15. Use EPF monies to get a professional cert

For those who have been thinking about getting a professional certificate for career progression purposes, they can now use their Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) savings to do so.

The EPF will expand the scope of its education withdrawal for qualifications attained at certificate level in relation to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0).

The EPF is also looking to expand this withdrawal to include members’ parents and spouses.

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