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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Value-Add Economic Prosperity to Abolishment Not Study Implications of Exemption – Dr. Jeffrey

KOTA KINABALU - “The so-called Cabotage Working Committee to study the implications of the so-called “abolishment now turned into exemption” of the cabotage policy not only adds to the confusion but also reveal the shallowness and cluelessness of the Sabah government and Sabah BN leaders,” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, President of Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) cum Bingkor Assemblyman.

Most Sabahans are flabbergasted with the setting up of the Working Committee and its announced objective to study the implications of the cabotage exemption. These Sabahans are more intellectual than the Sabah BN leaders. Perhaps, the Sabah Cabinet were half-asleep when making the decision on the Working Committee.

If at all the Working Committee is to be set up, it should be tasked with 2 primary objectives, certainly not to monitor the implications.

The first objective should be to ensure implementation of the abolishment of the cabotage not just exemption and not to allow the federal government and the Ministry of Transport to wriggle their way out of the abolishment which was announced by PM Najib grandiosely in Sandakan.

The second objective should be to further add value to the abolishment by implementing other complementary policies and actions to reap the full benefit of the abolishment for the economic prosperity of Sabah and Sabahans. 

These further policies should include steps to declare Sepanggar Bay Container Port as a national load centre for international shipping, generation of addition cargo load and better incentives for processing and manufacturing industries in Sabah.

Steps should also be taken for further reduction of the prices of goods, better efficiency in port handling facilities and supporting services, attraction of international shipping companies to call at Sepanggar Bay.

Better port facilities, reduction of freight and port handling charges as well as the abolishment of the Block Exemption Order which is due for renewal should also be included as part of the overall scope of the Working Committee.

Since the introduction of the cabotage policy in 1980 and the declaration of Port Klang as the national load centre, Sabahans have had to carry the burden of higher costs due to unwarranted freight charges and double handling charges due to transhipment through Port Klang for the past 37 years.

As a result, amongst the additional federal policies that could be value-added to the abolishment of the cabotage could be special tax incentives for Sabahans including special tax exemptions and exemption of the GST.  These should be available for Sabahans for at least another 20 years to make up for the sacrifices of Sabahans for the past 37 years which have indirectly contributed to Port Klang progressing into one of the top 20 busiest ports in the world.

The big question would then be how will the Working Committee fare on implementing the abolishment of the cabotage and translating it into better benefits and economic prosperity for Sabahans?

Unfortunately, judging from the inaction of the RCI Working Committee on Illegal Immigrants, which has turned out to be a lame duck, most Sabahans are doubtful that the Working Committee on cabotage will work.

If the Working Committee is unable to perform for the economic prosperity of Sabah, then Sabahans should exercise their voting rights wisely in the forthcoming general elections and vote out the Umno-BN federal and State governments.

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