Monday, 23 December 2013

Festive Dining: Macalister Mansion - Georgetown

And with the last of 3 updates today regarding festive dining I have saved what for me would be the best until last, Macalister Mansion.  OK, there may be only the slightest chance of frost, snow and ice on the day (it pays to be optimistic!!), but the festive offerings at MM really to do look enticing, complete with wine pairing menus.  Details can be found here.

Festive Dining: E&O Hotel - Georgetown

Another option for those who have left it a bit late to plan dining out over the festive period a variety of options will be available at the E&O Hotel, right in the heart of Georgetown.  Details of the range of festive offerings can be found here.

Festive Dining: Rasa Sayang Hotel - Batu Ferringhi

Still not planned your Christmas dining?  Here's one to consider.  The excellent Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa in Batu Ferringhi has a great range of options for eating out over the festive period be it a brunch, buffet or fine dining with some superb set dinners in the famed Ferringhi Grill restaurant.  A guide the the resort's festive dining can be found here.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Road Transport Department (JPJ) - Penang

Previously when needing to get much done involving the Road Transport Department (JPJ -Jabatan Pengangkutan JalanI have always travelled to Butterworth, despite there previously being a JPJ branch out at Batu Uban (now closed).  Now though, JPJ have moved to their new location at Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, near to the University Sains Malaysia (USM) and is much more accessible for those in the North of Penang.

First time I went there it took me a while to find, mostly because I'd always seen it while passing on the way to the airport and if travelling from Georgetown you actually need to turn off before you see JPJ.  The directions, or at least as best as I can describe them :), when driving from the direction of Georgetown, are as follows:

- Drive along Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah and turn right at the roundabout (in the direction of the airport) - Drive through first lights (you will see USM's sports field on the right)
- Next set of traffic lights turn right - signposted P15 (Jalan Sungai Dua)
- Drive to first set of traffic lights (you will see a KFC), turn left
- Drive along this road and then take second left turn. Follow the road to the JPJ car park.

JPJ does get very busy at times but opens at 07:45 and getting there early will mostly avoid the queues.  It may also be advisable to avoid a day or two before and just after public holidays, especially extended ones.  JPJ Penang can handle the full range of JPJ administrative procedures, including one I'm regularly asked about by expats, driving licence conversion.

The full address and contact details are here:

Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah
10510 Pulau Pinang
Tel: 04-656 4131 / 04-656 4087
Fax: 04-656 4080

The JPJ website is here and they also have a Facebook Page here.

Budget 2014: Real Property Gains Tax / Goods & Services Tax

There were many measures announced in the Budget for 2014 and of these, two will be of particular interest to expats, the former of the two in particular if you own, or are contemplating buying, property here.

The regulations regarding Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) have been amended in an attempt to curb foreign property speculation, unfortunately expat residents, including MM2H visa holders, have not been exempted from the changes.  From January 2014 non-Malaysians / non-residents (e.g. those who do not whole Permanent Resident status) will be required to pay 30% tax on any property price gain if sold within 5 years of acquiring the property.  After 5 years the tax is levied at 5%.  I stress that this is on the gains, not the overall sale price, so if you buy a property for RM 750K and sell for RM 900K after 5 years you will pay 5% RPGT only on the RM 150K the property has gained in value.  When calculating the gain you can subtract the cost of acquisition (e.g. legal fees etc) and any renovation costs, so it will be worth hanging on to any bills!

Still, the increase is quite considerable given that in 2013 the rate was 15% if the property was sold within 3 years (and of course, in Penang at least, foreign owners are locked in for 3 years so could not sell), dropping to 10% in years 4 and 5 and zero thereafter.  For some this is still not an issue but it may be enough for others, depending on their plans and circumstances, to think harder and longer about buying a property here.  What will be interesting to see is the trend over the next few years.

The second change, which will of course apply to everyone, is the imposition of a Goods and Services Tax from April 2015, however the current Sales Tax (6%) and Service Tax (10%) will be abolished.  There will be no GST on essential cooking items (rice, flour, spices and oil etc) or on electricity consumption up to 200 units.  Property sale is also GST exempt.

An overview of the announcements for the 2014 Budget can be found here at 'The Malaysian Insider'.  There is also a useful PDF showing some budget highlights here.