Chairman Datuk Wong Kie Yik said the industry was facing immense pressure due to decisions announced by certain government ministries and agencies, citing the recent proposal to increase levy payment for foreign workers as an example.
Speaking at the association’s annual general meeting here today, he said many employers had been caught off guard with the decision, the implementation of which had been deferred to next year.
“The government should give ample grace period for us to adjust.
“Any decision which is to be implemented at once will have huge consequences on the employers’ operation costs, as labour cost accounts for a huge percentage of the business operation costs,” he said in a speech which was read by STA Honorary Secretary Datuk Henry Lau Lee Kong.
Wong added that the people would ultimately bear the brunt of the decision when businesses failed to survive.
He also called on the state government to come up with a clear definition of sustainable forest management, in accordance to the rules and regulations of the state.
This would prevent it from being placed under the rules of international certification schemes, where the principles and criteria are multi-faceted and complex.
He added that the absence of coherent directives and clear technical guidance, as well as poorly coordinated implementation by the state forestry agencies were among the difficulties faced by the stakeholders.
“We reiterate our appeal to the state forestry agencies to carefully consider local scenarios when implementing directives and procedures, such as the Forest Management Certification Licence Agreement, and not to blindly adopt practices or procedures already used in other places,” he said.
On forest plantation development, Wong said its members faced great pressure to catch up with the government’s planting plan, admitting that the pace had been slow.
“But we are also concerned that the state forestry agencies are not looking into relevant issues, such as resolving land disputes, research and technical support, recruitment of foreign general workers and inflexible administrative requirements.
“A successful forest plantation industry needs a synergistic approach from the government, as well as the industry,” he said, noting that the state government had started to help the industry in a few areas.
Meanwhile, Wong described 2016 as a demanding and formative year for the industry in the state.
“This is due to a number of things, namely the initiative to combat illegal logging, the introduction of sustainable forest management, the moratorium on new timber licences and timber certification,” he said.
According to STA statistics, Sarawak logs and timber product exports in 2016 decreased to RM5.9 billion from RM6.53 billion in 2015.
Plywood remained as the main contributor with RM2.9 billion, followed bylogs at RM1.4 billion.
Source : @ Bernama