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KUCHING, June 28: Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Chong Chieng Jen says the granting of sugar import licences (APs) to the eight food and beverage (F&B) manufacturers in Sarawak is the Pakatan Harapan government’s new liberalisation policy to counter the previous Barisan Nasional’s (BN) monopoly policy.
He stated that he was appalled by the ignorant allegation by Sarawak United Peoples’ Party that the issuance of such AP is itself a form of cronyism. He is also appalled by its malicious allegation that he had personally profited from the issuance of these APs.
“Any F&B manufacturers in Sarawak can apply for this sugar import permit (APs) so long as they genuinely require sugar in their production. The sugar imported must only be for their own use for production and not for resale.
“So far, one F&B manufacturer has applied earlier last year and got the AP late last year. Eight more F&B manufacturers have subsequently applied and got their respective APs in June this year.
“It is open to all F&B manufacturers to write to the ministry to apply. There is no restrictions or closing date for such applications, except that the sugar imported must be for the applicants’ own-use.
“Therefore, if SUPP thinks that those who have been issued with APs are my cronies, then the whole F&B sectors in Sarawak will and can be my cronies,” said Chong, who is Sarawak PH chairman, in a statement today.
Chong said the APs were directly issued to the manufacturers, without any middleman transaction or `rent-seeking Alibaba’, which is the hallmark of the previous BN administration.
“The successful applicants also do not need to pay me anything,” said Chong, adding that having succeeded in implementing this partial liberalisation of sugar supply policy in Sarawak, the next step under the ministry would be to implement this new policy in Sabah.
He said so far, the whole F&B industry are happy with this liberalisation policy because it had reduced their costs of production tremendously, a saving of approximately RM1,000 per tonne and it involves hundreds and some even few thousand tonnes of sugar per manufacturer.
“The only party not happy with this new policy are the two sugar refiners i.e. MSM Malaysia Holdings Bhd (MSM) and Central Sugar Refinery Sdn Bhd (CSR) who have, since BN’s time up till this day, enjoyed the exclusive rights of supply of sugar in the whole of Malaysia.
“Why is SUPP now becoming their spokesman championing against this new liberalisation of sugar supply policy?” asked Chong.
Chong said Malaysians have suffered enough under the monopoly policy of Barisan Nasional. The sugar industry is just the tip of the iceberg. Other sectors like rice, medical and medical equipment supply, Puspakom and telecommunication all have a tremendous impact on our everyday lives.
“Due to the fact that these monopolies have now become so entrenched in the system, both legally and commercially, it is difficult and takes time and extra effort for the new PH government to dismantle such monopolies, especially given that GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) and Umno are still championing for the interest of these monopolies.
“Nevertheless, the PH government is determined to dismantle such monopolies, though slowly but surely, because we cannot allow these companies to continue exploiting ordinary Malaysian consumers and control the economy.
“In Sarawak, the monopoly over cement, steel and natural resources like sand and stone, timber concessions have also taken its toll on the people of Sarawak and our economy.
“We can’t set foot to dismantle such monopolies in Sarawak because of the protection by the GPS government and the State autonomy on these matters. Only if there is a change of the state government then we can start the process of dismantling these state-government policy related monopolies and control,” he asserted. — DayakDaily