KOTA KINABALU July 4, 2012: Malaysia International Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) Sabah Branch wants the state government to continue pushing Petronas to ensure there is enough gas for Sabah’s own development.
“We strongly request the state government to urge Petronas to commit that in all its projects, the first opportunity is given to local consultants and qualified local companies so they will not end up being sub-contractors or sub, sub, sub contractors earning mere peanuts,” said MICCI Sabah Branch chairman, Datuk A Arulpragasam.
Speaking during MICCI Sabah Branch’s annual luncheon here yesterday, he added that despite the setting up of the Sipitang Oil and Gas Industrial Park (SOGIP), there would still be a shortage of gas for development of downstream industries as most of the Sabah gas would be piped to Bintulu.
SOGIP involves the development of over 4,000 acres of land, with the RM4.5 billion Petronas Sabah Ammonia and Urea (SAMUR) plant being the first to be built there.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman was the guest-of-honour at the event, which was also attended by state cabinet ministers, their assistants, as well as business community.
Arulpragasam also added that apart from gas, MICCI also hopes Petronas Gas Berhad’s RM1 billion in capital expenditure for its Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Lahad Datu, which is expected to be completed in 2015, as well as the first 100 megawatt (MW) Kimanis Power Plant that would supply power to the state’s main grid by December next year, and the remaining 200MW by April 2014, would be completed on time in order to solve Sabah’s acute and perennial problem of inadequate electricity supply and frequent interruptions.
“In the Kolombong Industrial area alone, there were 10 unannounced power failures in the last three months and this is coupled with the increase in electricity charges by 30 over per cent which frustrates the manufacturers,” he said.
He added that these were among the many topics raised by MICCI members, which also include the implementation of the minimum wage and cabotage policy, to mention some.
Arulpragasam said issues related to the implementation of the minimum wage policy would no doubt affect the business community which would add to the already higher cost of doing business in Sabah.
“We hope that in the long run, the implementation will benefit both the employers and employees by producing high quality workers achieving better results.
“It is also our hope that the state and federal governments will ensure a smooth implementation of the policy by allowing time for the private sector to make the necessary adjustments. We must all make changes in our mindset that we do not creep into a comfort zone syndrome with the extra pay and make no effort to improve ourselves,” he said.
On the cabotage issue, MICCI hopes that the federal government will implement the one country one price policy in keeping with the 1Malaysia concept so that Sabah will not be made to suffer financially, especially when the goods and service tax (GST) is introduced in the near future, to which Arulpragasam said: “We hope that solutions are found to rectify the pathetic policy.”
He also announced that the extension of land lease is now being carried out by the Land and Survey Department, of which out of the 97 applicants from MICCI members, 19 have been approved by the Natural Resources Department.
On a different note, Arulpragasam said MICCI sees greater investor interests in downstream activities in Sabah such as the agriculture, aquaculture, palm oil and the oil and gas.
“It is our hope that the state government’s investor friendly and hand-holding policies would cement the implementation of these investment projects,” he said.
MICCI, he added, also took note of the RM107 billion investments secured by the Sabah Development Corridor in the first quarter of this year.
“It is our hope that the initial 31 entry point projects (EPPs), worth RM77.5 billion, would be implemented soon in order to create the 144,000 new jobs, thus boosting the state’s economic growth and employment,” he said.