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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Penang - Quaint Pubs and Easygoing Lifestyle



Lure of quaint pubs and easygoing lifestyle
By CHRISTINA CHIN
The Star

PENANG’s laidback lifestyle is a tourist attraction in itself. Ask any backpacker or tourist and they will tell you the same thing.

Urbanisation gave party-going islanders a slew of new dance clubs to frequent but at the heart of George Town's thriving nightlife is a pub scene that comes alive as the sun descends behind the colonial heritage buildings of Upper Penang Road.

With their long flowing dreadlocks, faded sleeveless tees and knapsacks that have clearly seen better days, backpackers from Europe, Africa and the Americas are a common sight at these budget watering holes. (Read more...The Star)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Yearly EPF withdrawals to settle housing loans

BY FLORENCE A.SAMY
Source: The Star



PETALING JAYA: Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributors can now withdraw their Account II savings yearly to reduce or settle their housing loans.

They can also now make withdrawals to fund tertiary education starting at diploma level for themselves and their children under the Education Withdrawal scheme.

Prior to the changes, members were only allowed to withdraw their Account II savings once every three years to reduce or settle their housing loans.

Under the Education Withdrawal, they were only previously allowed to withdraw savings to pay for diploma courses for themselves and for degree courses and above for their children.

The housing withdrawals, according to a statement yesterday, can be made annually from the last date of withdrawal, with a minimum amount of RM500.

“In addition, members are now given the flexibility to help their spouses reduce or settle their housing loans even if the member is not a joint owner, a requirement prior to this new amendment to the EPF’s procedure,” the statement said.

When helping spouses reduce or settle loans, several conditions have to be complied with. The spouse must be the purchaser and borrower of the housing loan, and the property is mortgaged to a bank.

Proof of marriage is required.

EPF senior public relations manager Nik Affendi Jaafar said the changes, approved by the Finance Ministry, were part of the EPF’s initiative to implement more flexibility in withdrawals.

“We are constantly studying the viability of our withdrawals and benefits to meet the changing and diverse needs of our 5.2 million active members.”

“We are confident that these changes will be welcomed by members,” he added.

Meanwhile, MTUC president Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud, when contacted, said members must practise discretion when using such facilities so as to not jeopardise their old-age savings.

“The life expectancy for a male and female is the early and mid 70s, respectively. When a person retires at 55, he still has 15 to 20 years more and I’m concerned about how he can take care of himself if his savings is used up,” said Syed Shahir who is an EPF board member.

Cuepacs president Datuk Nordin Abdul Hamid, who is also an EPF board member, concurred with Syed Shahir and said that contributors had to be smart and careful, and that their savings would not be affected.

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EPF’s new withdrawal scheme welcomed

PETALING JAYA: The annual withdrawal of funds from Account II of the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) to reduce housing loans means savings for consumers and a boost to the economy, say financial and property experts.

“It makes sense for contributors to take out their money because they only earn 4% to 5% interest from EPF when the loan interest rate is 7% to 8%.

“This means net savings for consumers,” said Singular Asset Management chief investment officer Teoh Kok Lin Teoh.

He said contributors now have a choice of withdrawing their savings annually or every three years.

On Monday, EPF announced that contributors could now withdraw savings from their Account II yearly to reduce or settle housing loans.

Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (Rehda) president Datuk Jeffrey Ng agreed it would boost the property market. He said contributors would be able to pay off their loans faster.

National House Buyers Association secretary general Chang Kim Loong agreed it would reduce house buyers’ debts.

Source: The Star

Income Tax - Keep documents for seven years, taxpayers reminded

KUANTAN: Taxpayers have been reminded to keep all statements and other supporting documents for at least seven years for verification.

Inland Revenue Board public relations officer (Kuantan) Normadiah Ahmad said taxpayers were required to submit only the income tax return forms to the processing centre.

She said relevant documents such as the EA form, receipts, and statements from insurance firms and others were no longer required to be enclosed.

“However, these documents are important should a dispute arise.

“If there is a need, we may require taxpayers to come to the IRB office personally and furnish us with the supporting documents,” she said.

The public have until the end of this month to submit their income tax returns, failing which they would be fined between RM200 and RM2,000.

She said those who had yet to receive their income tax forms should proceed to the nearest IRB offices to check.

Source: The Star

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