Hornbill Unleashed

June 4, 2017

Cabotage policy ‘not as simple as we think’, says Masing

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:02 AM

Image result for Dr James MasingA joint committee comprising government officers and shippers from Sarawak and Sabah should be formed to look into matters pertaining to cabotage policy.

This proposal came from Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing yesterday, who said Sarawak and Sabah should have a joint committee to solve the matter once and for all before the 14th general election.

Masing, who is presently having a break in Australia, told thesundaypost this when prompted for comments on the recent statements made by Development Minister of Sabah Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who instructed his ministry to create a taskforce to discuss cabotage issues following the prime minister’s announcement of Sabah and Sarawak’s exemption from the policy.

Masing, who is also Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation, pointed out that cabotage policy “is not as simple as we think.”

“It requires serious thinking by the government, and better understanding by us, both the shippers and the consumers point of views. I am sure the shippers want to export and import their goods in the most economical ways so that both them (shippers) and consumers are not at the losing end,” he said.

He recalled having been briefed by the shippers on the issue recently and that he had attributed the high cost of goods in Sarawak to the shippers.

“During the briefing, I represented the consumers point of view, and naturally I accused them (shippers) of being the culprits for high cost of goods in Sarawak. The shippers said ‘No’. There are other variables which increased the price of goods in Sarawak. They named to me the culprits,” said Masing.

He said shippers in the state had argued that they stood to lose if the cabotage policy exemption was implemented in Sarawak even if temporarily.

“I was informed that Sarawak has the most number of shippers as compared to Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia, thus Sarawakian shippers are opposed vehemently to the abolishment of the cabotage policy. While Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia have lesser numbers, and are therefore, less vocal in their resentment to the abolishment of the cabotage policy,” he added.

On May 25, the Sarawak Sabah Shipowners Association urged the government to revisit the cabotage policy and conduct an in-depth study on the impact of the exemption before implementation.

The association cautioned that the exemption may cause damage to the local shipping industry ‘without benefiting Sarawakians’ welfare and livelihood’.

It pointed out that freight rates which had been on a steady decline had forced at least four listed companies on Bursa Malaysia to exit the industry over the years.

The association feared that if the cabotage policy was abolished for good after a six-month trial period, more companies could be gradually put out of business.

Masing had earlier said that Sabah and Sarawak are to be exempted for six months from the cabotage policy before a decision is made on whether it should be abolished or maintained.

However, the Transport Ministry said on May 31 in Kota Kinabalu that the government has not set any timeframe for the implementation of the cabotage policy exemption for Sabah and Sarawak.

Source : The Borneo Post Online


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