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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, May 25: Slamming Padungan assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen’s criticism of the Sarawak government over rising transport and logistics costs in Sarawak, Transport Minister Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin insisted that a study on the matter with stakeholders is necessary, rather than making sweeping statement to gain cheap publicity and make promises that cannot be fulfilled.
Lee said this is how the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government operates and that is to engage with the stakeholders first to find out the real issue.
“This approach is certainly different from the style of Ahli Yang Berhormat for Padungan where he made promises in the past but failed to fulfil when was in the PH (Pakatan Harapan) government as deputy minister,” he told the in the media room of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex here today.
Lee reminded Chong of the latter’s promises on oil and gas royalties retained at five per cent for Sarawak, apart from an extra 20 per cent of oil profit and returning of 50 per cent of tax revenue collected from the State.
He emphasised that it is imperative to understand that the increase in transport and logistics costs is not merely confined to Malaysia or Sarawak but the whole world due to disruption to the global supply chain from the point of production to the delivery of goods to the consumers.
“All these is the result of two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, followed by geo-political tension, especially involving the war between Ukraine and Russia and most importantly, the hike in oil prices from USD80 per barrel in 2019 to USD112.80 per barrel on May 25, 2022.
“Since this issue is not restricted just to Sarawak, therefore as a responsible and accountable Ahli Yang Berhormat for Padungan who is also a Member for Parliament for Stampin, he should have brought up the issue in the recent Dewan Rakyat sitting,” Lee hit back.
He also noted that the federal government provides diesel fuel subsidies to land cargo operators including those from Sarawak as part of measures to cushion the impact of the rising cost of transport and logistics.
Reassuring Chong that the GPS government will address the issue appropriately, Lee pointed out that the Ministry of Transport (MOT) is constantly engaging with transport industry players, especially logistics and forwarding companies, with the Sarawak Public Transport Committee scheduling a meeting in June to deliberate on the issue.
“Based on the Department of Statistics’ Consumer Price Index for March 2022, it clearly shows that Sarawak is amongst the three States that have registered the lowest increase in inflation at 1.7 per cent, which is below the national average of 2.2 per cent.
“It is significant to note that Penang, the state under DAP (Democratic Action Party) administration registered an increase in inflation at 2.2 per cent,” he added. — DayakDaily