Malaysia set to reopen nearly all economic activities

Shoppers wearing face masks walk through a shopping mall in downtown Kuala Lumpur on Sunday as the country eases most restrictions. (AP)
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Updated 08 June 2020

Malaysia set to reopen nearly all economic activities

  • Government to ease restrictions in phases with health guidelines

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia on Sunday said it would reopen nearly all economic activity and allow interstate travel starting June 10, lifting coronavirus restrictions imposed nearly three months ago as it moves to revive an economy battered by the pandemic.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced in a televised address the novel coranvirus outbreak was “successfully” under control and Malaysia would begin a new recovery phase until Aug. 31.

“I am aware the government cannot control your lives forever to control the virus,” Yassin said.

The government will ease restrictions on social, education and religious activities in phases with health guidelines in place, and businesses will be allowed to return to normal operating hours.

Yassin encouraged domestic holidays as travel between states will be allowed, but said international borders will remain closed.

Entertainment centers such as theme parks and night clubs, sports that involve close contact and events involving a large gathering of people will also not be allowed.

Malaysia had gradually reopened businesses over the past month with social distancing protocols, after shuttering all nonessential businesses and schools, banning public gatherings and restricting travel on March 18.

The pace of new coronavirus infections in the country, which in March was among the highest in Southeast Asia, has slowed in recent weeks.

Known infections were at 8,303, with a total death of 117 as of Saturday.

“Health ministry statistics showed that the rate of infection among local residents is lowering and under control,” Yassin said.

“We wil enter a normalization phase from August 31 onwards until a vaccine is found,” he added.

Malaysia’s fiscal deficit will nearly double to about 6 percent of annual economic output this year because of the government’s recent efforts to revive the economy, the finance minister told Reuters on Saturday.

Southeast Asia’s third-biggest economy has announced incentives worth 295 billion ringgit ($69 billion) to soften the impact of the pandemic, with the government vowing to directly inject 45 billion ringgit of that into the economy.


Creditors take action against Al Jaber in decade-long saga

Updated 6 min 25 sec ago

Creditors take action against Al Jaber in decade-long saga

  • The downturn in the Gulf construction sector has triggered a number of corporate restructurings as companies are forced to reschedule debt, raise fresh borrowing or enter insolvency protection

DUBAI: Creditors have started to enforce claims against Abu Dhabi-based Al Jaber Group, in a dispute triggered by a construction downturn in the UAE more than a decade ago.

Al Jaber, a contractor with interests across a range of sectors, has struggled since building up debt in the wake of a UAE real estate crisis and began talks with creditors in 2011.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, which is working as restructuring and security agent, said in a document dated Sept. 21 which was seen by Reuters, that it had instructions from the majority of creditors to proceed with claims against Al Jaber.

A representative for Al Jaber did not immediately respond to a request or comment. ADCB declined to comment.

The move follows delays in restructuring agreements, under which Al Jaber was to appoint a new board and sell companies and assets such as the Shangri-La hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

In exchange, creditors had agreed to extend the maturity of a 5.9 billion dirhams ($1.61 billion) loan, cut interest rates, and provide additional revolving debt.

The initial enforcement action now being pursued by creditors includes the “acceleration and demand for payment of amounts outstanding” under the previously agreed debt restructuring, a source familiar with the matter said.

Enforcement will also allow creditors to claim against Al Jaber’s chairman under a 4.5 billion dirham loan to the company.

Several UAE companies have sought to extend debt maturities or agree better terms in recent years to avoid defaults, after an oil price crash hit energy services and construction.

The coronavirus crisis has added to the strain and Arabtec Holding, the UAE’s biggest listed contractor, this week will discuss options including dissolution after the pandemic hit projects and led to additional costs.

Meanwhile, Dubai-listed construction firm Drake & Scull is working to reach an agreement with its creditors in an out-of-court process.