State govt seeks greater Bumiputera participation in infrastructure projects

Utas Kesturi Sdn Bhd managing director Abang Sarbini Abdul Latip (second right) receiving the best Bumiputera vendor award from Abang Johari (second left). Also seen are Abdul Hamed (left) and Idris (right). Screenshot taken from Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas) livestream (Dec 21, 2020).

By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, Dec 21: The Sarawak government will provide more opportunities to Bumiputera contractors to be involved in infrastructure related projects.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state government aims to nurture more Bumiputera participation in all sectors of the economy including power supply.

“Actually, I have instructed the Sarawak Financial Secretary’s office to have a certain formula where certain jobs are given to Bumiputera.

“And the Bumiputera can compete among themselves so that they can deliver their services on time.

“We are constructing a lot of infrastructure projects from roads to bridges.

“Supply of materials include stones, sand and so on, and these are the spillover effects of our project development,” he said during the inaugural Sarawak Energy Bhd (Sarawak Energy) Vendor Awards 2020 event at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here today.

Abang Johari disclosed that approximately RM10 billion of the state’s funds have been spent on infrastructure development to provide basic amenities for rural residents.

He noted that infrastructure projects in rural areas once completed will provide a foundation to open up the rural economy.

He added that it will also allow rural residents to participate in the state’s economic development through modern farming.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Energy chairman Datuk Amar Abdul Hamed Sepawi said the power utility provider has engaged with more than 800 locally established vendors with significant expenditure in various works, consultancy and services.

He disclosed that the share of work awarded to local and Bumiputera contractors has increased.

Abdul Hamed said in 2019, RM1.24 billion or 65 per cent of the company’s total tenders were awarded to Sarawakian businesses.

To date, he added, the share of works awarded to Bumiputera contractors was RM2.19 billion.

“We have also specifically embedded Bumiputera content requirements in contracts as part of our corporate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

“The number of qualified local and Bumiputera vendors registered in our vendors’ list has increased by 630 companies since 2016.

“To continue growing these numbers, we have also established various initiatives to address barriers faced by our local and Bumiputera vendors, including financial and capability development challenges,” he said.

Abdul Hamed delivering his speech during the event. Screenshot taken from Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas) livestream (Dec 21, 2020).

Abdul Hamed revealed that Sarawak Energy has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd and Syarikat Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan to formalise its collaboration to provide financing facilities for its contractors especially to provide opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to participate in large-scale projects.

He disclosed that RM45.5 million had been approved and benefitted more than ten local contractors.

Abdul Hamed added Sarawak Energy had also in October this year signed a MoU with three Sarawak-based manufacturing companies to support the local business community.

“This will maximise the local supply chain, sustain local employment, encourage knowledge-sharing and foster industry innovation,” he added.

On another note, Abang Johari said Sarawakians must upgrade themselves with technological know-how and business best-practices.

He believed that artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics will play important roles in the workplace and businesses in the future.

Thus, he said the state government hoped Sarawak Energy’s vendors and business organisations will try to adopt these new approaches in their business operations.

He noted technology will become more efficient in the future with the use of robotics in business while data is required to be stored and analysed.

With the state economy en route to a high income and developed status by 2030, Abang Johari hoped that the state will also become a hub for development in the Southeast Asia region.

On human capital and talent development, he urges Sarawak Energy’s vendors to work with the state government’s institutions of higher learning, including the International College of Advanced Technology Sarawak (i-Cats).

Abang Johari pointed out that i-Cats has been given university status and is capable of training Sarawakians including those working through the vendor scheme to upgrade their skills.

Among those present at Sarawak Energy’s inaugural vendor awards ceremony were SEB board member Datuk Idris Buang, SEB group chief executive officer Datu Sharbini Suhaili and Sesco chief executive officer Lau Kim Swee. — DayakDaily