Sarawak Manufacturers Association disagrees with cabotage policy

Joseph Lau

KUCHING, April 23: Sarawak Manufacturers Association (SMA) is against the reinstatement of the cabotage policy in Sarawak as it would have an adverse impact on manufacturers and exporters.

Its president Joseph Lau in a statement today, explained that they were not in favour of the cabotage policy as manufacturers already faced an increasing logistic land surcharge cost to transport goods from city to city.

“Secondly, the inflexibility of shipping schedules also delays the time in exporting our products to international customers within a competitive timeframe, causing a loss of market share among Sarawakian exporters.


“Thirdly, (there is) slow cash turnover as manufacturers need to accumulate stocks in the warehouses while waiting for shipments,” he said.

Lau emphasised that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) needed to have financial backup and cash holding power, otherwise it would limit the strengths of exporters.

Apart from that, he also pointed out that it was unreasonable for shipping companies to have to bear the damages or costs due to glitches such as computer system breakdowns at Kuching Port Authority (KPA).

“Exporters are charged extra fees of RM300 per 20 containers and RM600 per 40 containers.

“(Instead), Shipping companies should demand their compensations from KPA who caused the damage,” he added.

On another setback, Lau complained that manufacturers with foreign workers who have approved permits (AP) from the Labour Department were unable to renew their working visas as it was difficult to book an appointment with Immigration Department and sometimes the wait could last for four to six months.

“We thus urge the Sarawak Immigration Department to issue a temporary letter or appointment booking receipts for manufacturers to prove that they legally hired foreign workers while waiting for a working visa.

“This has also caused manufacturers to reduce their production capacity and increase maintenance fees for their foreign workers,” he said.

Meanwhile, SMA was supportive of the tighter restrictions implemented in Sibu that will last until April 26 to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“Factories operations must comply with the standard operating procedures (SOP) and those categorised as non-essential should be closed.

“However, manufacturers need to survive and thus hope there won’t be any extension of the restrictions after April 26, otherwise it will hurt the economy of Sibu region,” Lau added. — DayakDaily