May 27, 2015

How new F&B business can bypass GST collection / Bagaimana bisnes GST baru boleh tidak mengutip GST

I have written this as an article published in Malaysia Insider titled How a new F&B outlet can bypass GST by Khairul Anuar Shaharudin and the new internet magazine LivingMsia titled Getting into the food business? Be GST smart! (Check out LivingMsia as they are a new internet magazine with lots to offer). They are different from each other as I edited them for each publication.


Here is the article reproduced ad verbatim from Malaysian Insider :

Caution: this is not something the taxman (Customs Department) would like you to know, but the advice here is not against the law with regards to the goods and services tax (GST) in Malaysia.
You are starting a new food and beverage (F&B) business because you think you have delicious food to sell. Here are some tips for new F&B ventures to make sure you will survive the first few months, maybe even a year or two, in this new GST era:
1) There is a threshold of RM500,000 per year before you have to collect GST from your clients. That amount translates to just above RM40,000 per month. You need to calculate an amount for your livelihood after deducting costs, which may translate to half of that amount or even less.
The threshold set makes sure any business that crosses the threshold is taxable under GST. If you are ambitious and cannot wait to make your first million in the first year of your business, you can go ahead and break that threshold and then you will have to collect GST from your clients.
Those who are smart and know the real value of a business for its longevity, be patient. Business is a marathon and not a 100-metre dash, after all.
2) In order to make No. 1 work, you have to have a game plan. Like buying your ingredients for your food business from among those stuffs which are zero-rated items in GST. Many raw materials are zero-rated but this may change in the future. Hence, study the list of zero-rated items and make sure you make adjustments accordingly.
3) Lower the costs of your operation. You can do this by doing a few cost-effective measures of running an F&B business:
a) Operate the business yourself. Don't use too much labour, especially foreign labour. Man the point of sale yourself, cook and serve every customer yourself (personal touch is always good) and if you can, do everything yourself.
b) Run your business from a stall or half a shop. Get a place where the rent is cheap. If you still want make it a full-service F&B business, the patrons can stand or sit on high chairs. This requires less space.
c) Sell from home. Run a delivery service or a pick-up service. Cakes baked at home and delivered to buyers make surprisingly good business. Packed-lunch business is also picking up in the Klang Valley.
d) A take-away only business like goreng pisang or nasi lemak stalls can be lucrative but still below the threshold for GST collection.
e) Cater to small groups of people with a certain target of money to be collected each month. A cook with talents for certain types of food can command good money.
f) Keep short hours for your F&B business. Foot traffic in most areas (even in malls) fills up only in short durations of time and not all the time every day. Concentrate on either breakfast or lunch or dinner or a combination of two only, ideally those adjacent to each other.
g) Cook and send to other places to sell your food. There are not many nasi lemak bungkus on the tables of mamaks these days.
4) Close the shop for a certain period of time each year when you near your threshold for that year. Or set a target of RM500,000 revenue per year and the moment you achieve it, close your shop until the next year comes around. People in Europe do it. Maybe it is time for us to follow suit.
5) Finally, albeit expensively, close your business every time you have bypassed the threshold. Be forewarned, the Customs Department did warn that businesses which take this route may be found liable in trying to bypass GST.
Do refer to a tax consultant about all your GST inquiries before implementing these suggestions. – May 26, 2015.

Berikut adalah terjemahan artikel di atas di dalam Bahasa Malaysia :
Amaran : Ini bukan sesuatu yang pihak berkuasa, Jabatan Kastam, mahu anda tahu tetapi nasihat di sini bukan lah sesuatu yang menyalahi undang-undang berkenaan cukai barangan dan perkhidmatan (GST) di Malaysia.
Anda akan memulangkan perniagaan makanan dan minuman (F&B) yang baru kerana anda merasakan anda mempunyai makanan yang sedap untuk dijual. Berikut adalah beberapa tips untuk perniagaan F&B yang baru yang memastikan anda dapat bertahan selama beberapa bulan dan mungkin juga setahun dua di dalam era GST yang masih baru ini :
1) Terdapat had RM500,000 setahun yang perlu dilepasi sebelum anda perlu mengutip GST daripada pelanggan anda. Jumlah ini menjadi lebih kurang RM40,000 sebulan. Anda perlu mengira jumlah yang diperlukan untuk hidup setelah menolak kos, yang mungkin akan memakan setengah atau kurang daripada jumlah itu.
Anda boleh menjual makanan dan minuman anda lebih murah daripada mereka yang mengutip GST daripada pelanggan untuk setiap barangan yang mereka jual.
Had yang telah ditentukan memastikan hanya perniagaan yang telah melebihi had tersebut dikenakan cukai GST. Sekiranya anda jenis yang terlalu cepat kaya dan tidak boleh menunggu untuk mencapai jumlah sejuta anda pada tahun pertama perniagaan anda, anda boleh memilih untuk melepasi had tersebut yang menyebabkan anda terpaksa mengutip GST daripada pelanggan-pelanggan anda.
Mereka yang bijak dan tahu tentang nilai sebenar sebuah perniagaan adalah berapa lama ia wujud, akan tahu untuk bersabar. Perlu ingat, perniagaan adalah satu maraton dan bukannya larian 100-meter.
2) Untuk membuat No. 1 berjaya, anda perlu mempunyai perancangan rapi. Antaranya membeli barangan mentah untuk perniagaan makanan daripada barangan kadar-0 dalam GST. Banyak bahan mentah adalah barangan kadar-0 tetapi ini mungkin berubah di masa hadapan. Oleh itu, kaji senaran barangan mentah kadar-0 dan pastikan anda membuat pelarasan sewajarnya. 
3) Kurangkan kos operasi anda. Anda boleh lakukan ini dengan beberapa kos yang efektif dalam menjalankan perniagaan F&B :
a) Lakukan semua operasi anda sendiri. Jangan gunakan terlalu ramai pekerja, terutama pekerja asing. Jaga kaunter wang anda sendiri, masak sendir dan hidangkan makanan untuk pelanggan anda sendiri (sentuhan peribadi selalunya menarik pelanggan yang lebih) dan sekiranya boleh, lakukan semua perkara sendiri.
b) Jalankan perniagaan anda daripada gerai atau sewa hanya setengah kedai. Dapatkan tempat di mana sewa adalah murah. Jika anda mahu menjadikan ia perniagaan F&B berservis penuh, pelanggan boleh berdiri atau duduk atas kerusi tinggi. Ini memerlukan ruang yang lebih kecil.
c) Jual daripada rumah. Lakukan penghantaran atau pelanggan boleh mengambilnya sendiri. Kek yang dibakar di rumah dan dihantar kepada pelanggan adalah pernigaan yang menguntungkan. Perniagaan makanan tengahari berbungkus semakin popular di Lembah Klang.  
d) Perniagaan makanan bungkus-sahaja seperti yang menjual goreng pisang atau nasi lemak cukup menguntungkan tetapi masih tidak melepasi had untuk mengutip GST.
e) Masak untuk pelanggan dalam majlis tertentu dengan jumlah tertentu dengan sasaran jumlah wang tertentu untuk dikutip setiap bulan. Tukang masak yang boleh memasak makanan tertentu boleh membuat duit yang banyak. 
f) Pastikan masa buka perniagaan F&B anda pendek. Trafik pelanggan di kebanyakan tempat (termasuk pasaraya) hanya banyak dalam tempoh masa tertentu dan bukan setiap masa pada setiap hari. Tumpukan samada untuk sarapan pagi atau makan tengahari atau makan malam atau gabungan dua daripadanya, secara ideal yang bersebelahan antara satu sama lain.
g) Masak dan hantar ke tempat lain untuk menjual makanan anda. Nasi lemak bungkus semakin kurang di meja-meja di kedai mamak sekarang. 
4) Tutup kedai anda untuk beberapa lama pada setiap tahun apabila anda hampir mencapai had GST untuk tahun tersebut. Atau setkan sasaran perolehan RM500,000 setahun dan apabila anda mencapainya, tutup kedai anda sehingga tahun seterusnya. Banyak kedai di Eropah melakukannya. Mungkin sudah sampai masa kita melakukan yang sama.
5) Akhirnya, walaupun mungkin sedikit mahal, tutup perniagaan anda apabila anda telah mencapai had GST tersebut dan buka perniagaan baru. Jabatan Kastam ada memberi amaran akan mengambil tindakan kepada perniagaan yang sengaja melakukan sedemikian untuk sesiapa yang didapati cuba untuk lari daripada mengutip GST.
Sila rujuk pakar cukai dan GST tentang sebarang hal-hal GST sebelum melakukan cadangan-cadangan di atas.

May 21, 2015

Sewa : Isu dan Konflik Tuan Rumah dengan Penyewa


Pada hari Rabu, 20.5.2015, saya telah muncul di dalam program TV Al-Hijrah, Assalamualaikum di dalam segmen hartanah berbicara tentang Penyewa vs. Tuan Rumah.

Saya ada membuat blogpost tentang kemunculan saya itu di sini (eja segmen pun salah!).

Program Assalamualaikum TV Al-Hijrah ini berlangsung setiap hari di antara pukul 8.30 pagi sehingga 10.30 pagi. Ini maklumat tentang program Assalamualaikum yang diambil daripada website TV Al-Hijrah. Jika hendak playback rancangan-rancangan daripada TV Al-Hijrah boleh ke Al-Hijrah Media. Oleh kerana mereka tidak menaikmuatkan semua program mereka, saya ingin mengulas apa yang telah saya bincangkan pada hari itu. Iaitu tentang isu menyewa rumah.

Hos pada hari itu adalah Shahrul dan Sofi
Saya telah diutarakan soalan tentang masalah-masalah yang dihadapi oleh tuan rumah dengan penyewa. Ini berlaku terutamanya jika tiada perjanjian bertulis antara tuan rumah dengan penyewa.

Di Malaysia, kecuali di Bahagian 15, Kanun Tanah Negara 1965, tiada undang-undang spesifik berkenaan sewaan. Bahagian 15 itu secara am menggariskan tentang sewaan sebarang hartanah melebihi tiga tahun akan menjadikan sewaan itu pajakan dan perlu didaftarkan di pejabat tanah menggunakan Borang 15A di dalam Kanun Tanah Negara tersebut.

Kebanyakan sewaan yang dilakukan di kalangan orang awam adalah yang tidak melebihi tiga tahun dan jatuh di bawah sewaan.

Studio TV Al-Hijrah
Selain daripada perlunya perjanjian penyewaan untuk menolong tuan rumah mengutip sewa, ia juga diperlukan oleh tuan rumah untuk menekankan kepada penyewa perkara-perkara berikut :

1) Bila dan bagaimana bayaran sewaan perlu dilakukan. Sebagai tuan rumah, saya mendapati cara terbaik untuk memastikan penyewa membayar sewa adalah dengan penyewa memberi cheque post dated selama setahun. Ini akan memastikan sewa masuk tepat pada waktunya;

2) Memastikan keadaan rumah akan dipulangkan dalam keadaan baik. Saya cadangkan agar gambar keadaan rumah sebelum diserahkan kepada penyewa dimasukkan ke dalam Perjanjian Penyewaan dan ia menjadi panduan untuk penyewa memulangkan dalam keadaan yang sama;

3) Terma tentang apa-apa pengubahsuaian di dalam rumah dinyatakan dengan jelas termasuk meminta kebenaran daripada pihak berkuasa tempatan, membayar deposit kepada pihak berkuasa tempatan dan membayar denda, jika ada;

4) Satu senarai barangan samada perabut atau fittings yang diserahkan kepada penyewa dilampirkan dalam Perjanjian Penyewaaan tersebut;

5) Deposit rumah yang penuh dibayar pada masa Perjanjian Penyewaan dan penyerahan kunci dibuat. Ramai yang mengabaikan ini dan menyesal apabila penyewa membuat hal. Deposit biasanya adalah 2 bulan jumlah sewa dan 1 bulan sewa untuk sebarang kegagalan membayar bil utiliti;

6) Satu cara yang baik untuk memastikan tuan rumah tidak dibebankan dengan bil utiliti tidak berbayar adalah dengan mendaftar nama penyewa untuk utiliti tetapi syarikat utiliti biasanya membenarkan ini hanya untuk hartanah komersil;

7) Tuan rumah dan penyewa juga kena jelas tentang perkara paling penting iaitu kenaikan harga sewaan (tempoh masa dan jumlah);

Sebelum segmen saya, tetamu mereka termasuk Fynn Jamal bercakap tentang bayi terbuang
Saya juga pernah ditemuramah oleh BFM Radio mengenai penyewaan hartanah komersil. Temuramah ini boleh didengar di podcast di bawah :

Negotiating Commercial Leases

May 19, 2015

TV Al-Hijrah - Temuramah Sekmen Hartanah 20.5.2015


Saya akan muncul di segmen Assalamualaikum TV Al-Hijrah pada Rabu, 20.5.2015 di dalam segmen hartanah untuk berkongsi ilmu tentang masalah dan penyelesaian isu-isu yang timbul apabila menyewakan rumah kepada penyewa.

Berikut adalah soalan-soalan yang ditimbulkan oleh penerbit untuk saya terangkan dalam segmen hartanah tersebut (saya salin secara verbatim) :

FOKUS/SIPNOSIS:

Kekecewaan adalah perkataan yang paling tepat untuk digambarkan kepada pemilik rumah yang memberi sewa kepada penyewa yang suka hati mengubah suai rumah dan tidak menjelaskan bayaran sewa tepat pada masanya. Inilah lumrah yang terpaksa dihadapi pemilik rumah yang menyewakan rumah mereka kepada orang lain. Perjanjian awal di antara pemilik dan penyewa sudah  tentu pelbagai kata-kata manis diberikan.


SOALAN :

1. Sebagai penyewa, apa yang perlu anda lakukan apabila menyewa rumah?
2. Apakah yang dibolehkan dan tidak dibolehkan sebagai penyewa untuk melakukan pengubahsuaian rumah?
3. Mengikut Perjanjian sewa rumah, apakah tindakan tuan rumah sekiranya mereka gagal patuhi?
4. Penyewa sukahati ubah meter.
5. Selain itu, sewa bulanan dilambatkan namun masih mampu untuk mengubahsuai rumah tersebut.
6. Kata-kata akhir pesanan kepada penyewa dan tuan rumah.

Saya akan jawap soalan-soalan yang ditanya dalam rancangan Assalamualaikum esok pagi. Rancangan ini berlangsung di antara pukul 8.30 pagi sehingga 10.30 pagi setiap Isnin sehingga Ahad secara live daripada Pusat Penyiaran Digital TV Al-Hijrah di Kompleks Pusat Islam, Kuala Lumpur.

May 14, 2015

Why does it take so long for lawyers to complete a property transaction?



This question is not only asked by the purchaser of a property transaction but is also asked by the seller who sells the property to get money out of it. Most seller and purchaser expect a property transaction to be completed within a month or two. That is not the case as there are various factors to be taken into consideration and various parties involved other than the seller and the purchaser.

A lawyer is involved in a property transaction as a facilitator. A lawyer manages the various parties involved in the property transaction which include :
1)      the seller;
2)      the purchaser;
3)      the lawyer representing the seller (if the lawyer is acting for the purchaser) and vice versa;
4)      the housing developer (which an be the seller or involved in the transaction as the property is not issued with an individual title yet);
5)      the land office (where the property is registered as proof of ownership);
6)      the state authority (which is actually represented by the land office but is involved if the property is a property which requires a consent to transfer or consent to charge -  usually leasehold property);
7)      local authority (to pay for any assessment notice arrears);
8)      bank or banks (depending whether the purchaser purchase the property by taking a housing loan and if the seller still owes the bank any money which need to be paid first)

The duration of a property transaction from the time that the Sale & Purchase Agreement is signed to the time that the purchaser can say that he is the new owner of the property fluctuates according to the type of property being transacted. The easiest type of property to transfer will be a piece of land but this type of property also has pitfalls which can drag the transaction into many months. If the property is a house, the package that it comes in will be the key to the process. A house can be built on a piece of land and sell as a terrace house, a bungalow or a semi-D. A house can also be an apartment, a condominium and a penthouse. Agreements governing the sale of the house built on land and the one sold as a strata property are different.

When you buy from a property developer, the sale of a house on land will use the agreement provided for in Schedule G under the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966 which is the sale of building and land. The time frame provided for the property to be completely built and delivered to the purchaser is two years. Within the two years, the housing developers at their own pace must built the structure of the house, get all the infrastructures within the housing development ready, deal with authorities and finally deliver the key to the house buyer. The sale of strata property will use the agreement provided for in Schedule H of the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966 which is the sale of building or land which will be subdivided into parcel. As for strata property, the timeframe is increased to three years as there are a lot more complications in building a property with many units within it.

As housing developers has their own capability in building their housing project, you cannot actually say they are not delivering because you do not see any construction is taking place at the place where your new house is supposed to be. As much as housing developers are said to have a reputation as businessmen who don’t deliver what they have promised, they can set the schedule of building the houses according to their own time frame. If they are serious businessmen, they will want more purchasers to purchase their housing project and keep them in business.  Only when there are no progress in the housing development for more than one year should you worry about the fate of your house, if you buy the property from a housing developer.



However, if you are buying a property from another individual, the timeframe for the completion of the transaction can fluctuate between three months to more than a year (even more), depending on the type of property that you are buying and how you intend to finance your purchase. If the property that you are buying is not charged to any financial institution and the property does not require to be approved by the state authority to be transferred, whether the property has been issued a title or not, the time for it to be transferred can be a short time of two or three months. This is a very rare occurrence in this day and age as most property is purchased by the vendor in the first instance using a financial institution.

If the property is charged to a financial institution, the time for the transfer will be determined by the efficiency of bank which has put a charge on the property before it is sold. The bank will only release the property from its control once it has receives the full amount of payment due from the purchaser’s financier. Just imagine the intricacies that are involve as your lawyers have to communicate with your financier, with the vendor’s lawyer, with the vendor’s bank and in certain matters, the vendor himself, in trying to get the property unencumbered. Once payment are made, the lawyer who handles the finance side of your purchase will have to secure the interest of the financial institution that you have chosen to finance your property transaction. That will take another duration which will depend on the efficiency of your lawyer and to some extent, your financier.

One of the timeframe which usually delay the completion of a property transaction is when consent to transfer need to be acquired from the State Authority. ‘Application for Consent to Transfer’ as it is called usually takes between 3 months or more especially if the transfer is from a bumiputra seller to a non-bumiputra purchaser. Surprisingly, once consent to transfer is obtained, a consent to charge will only requires a maximum of 2 weeks to be obtained from the same department.

If the property is still not issued with an individual title, the housing developer which had built the property needs to be involved in the equation. Although Section 22D of the Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966 has specifically stated a housing developer should not withhold confirmation of any arrears and can only charge RM50-00 for issuing an undertaking to the lawyer(s) handling the transaction, things get complicated if there are arrears, if Joint Management Body decided to be tough and if the property is under receivership, to quote a few ‘complications’. Add between two weeks to three months for your lawyer to resolve this.

Another delay will usually happen when the property needs to be redeemed from the seller’s financier. As the seller’s financier is in the process of losing a customer, the department that handles the issuance of redemption statement and handling the redemption itself usually takes time to do as such. Another factor is the security documents are usually kept by a storage company and takes some reasonable time to be located. Add in another one or two month to the equation.

These are just some examples which can crop up when a property transaction is being conducted by your lawyer. A good advice for novice or even seasoned seller or purchaser of property to follow closely your lawyer who conducts your property transaction and help them facilitate the transaction wherever you could.

This article was first published in Property Insight magazine, April 2015 edition

April 21, 2015

London Book Fair 2015


After the Tokyo Book Fair 2014 (which I still haven't blogged about) and the New Delhi Book Fair 2015, last week, between 14 to 16 of April 2015, I managed to attend the London Book Fair 2015. Unlike the Tokyo Book Fair 2014 and the New Delhi Book Fair 2015, I properly attend the three-day event as I was given the task by the owner of Fixi, Amir Muhammad, to help him to bring Malaysian publishers to the London Book Fair in 2016. We are determine to do it without government help as we think the London Book Fair can be a springboard to a lot of Malaysian publishers to break new territory.




It was one year, in 2014, after Fixi won the Bookseller International Adult Trade Publisher Award at the International Book Industry Excellence Awards. Here is the Star newspaper coverage about Fixi win last year. It was a proud moment for Fixi and I had just joined Fixi. I now can claim to be one of Fixi's stable of writers with 2 short stories being accepted in their anthologies (Lost in Putrajaya and MF2014) and 2 Malay novels : Pinjam and Pentas. Here's my Goodreads link.






At the London Book Fair, where the business of books were conducted by business people, there were so many writers abound looking for opportunity. As you have to pay to get a badge, at GBP35, you know all that attended the London Book Fair were serious people. Unlike the other book fairs I attended, I planned to do so as well. I attended nearly most of the interesting forum, book launches, author's talk, technology briefing and pavilion's launches. Singapore have a pavilion which Amir said was getting bigger and bigger. Indonesia on account of being the guest country in October 2015's Frankfurt Book Fair 2015 (the biggest book fair in the world) had quite a big pavilion too.







Mexico was the Market Focus country for London Book Fair 2015 and had a huge pavilion. I managed to catch Elena Poniatowska, a famous Mexican writer; Chris Evans before he opened up the Club room, a frank discussion among translators from various countries about the fees they are getting paid for doing translations, a discussion by those who are bringing the Susanna Clarke's book : Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell  to television, a talk by Conchita Wurst and a few other talks which I managed to hear bits and pieces of. Some of these writers I only heard of for the first time although they looked adored by a few people.






Outside of London Book Fair, I managed to get into Amir Muhammad's good grace to be brought to meet the people from the Big Bad Wolf, a few od Indonesian filmmakers and we even had dinner with writers Tash Aw, Zen Cho and Lina Tan (a television producer). From Malaysia there were Ling Lung and his wife from Lejen Press with Syafiq, the writer for Ajaib and Awan and Fixi had Ariff Adly, the writer for Kacau and Gelap.






Needless to say, the sight, the sound and the experience at the London Book Fair 2015 left me wanting more and I hope I will be back next year.







Oh, Amir Muhammad and I did went to the British Library a day after the London Book Fair where we managed to sight the original manuscripts of Hikayat Raja Babi (will be published by Fixi at the Pesta Buku Antarabangsa Kuala Lumpur 2015) and the Magna Carta.
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