S’wak DAP chairman to govt: Liberalise cement importation, no need JV company as ‘middleman’

Chong Chieng Jen

KUCHING, Dec 24: The Sarawak government should liberalise the importation of cement from overseas instead of only allowing the joint venture (JV) company of Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) and Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) to import cement from Thailand.

Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen said the Sarawak government’s proposed move might partially resolve the cement shortage problem, but it also creates additional ‘middleman’ costs for local contractors.

“This, in the economic term, is called ‘rent-seeking’, and for the government to carry out rent-seeking is most improper and unacceptable.

“While this proposed JV company makes profits from the importation of cement, such profit will be passed on to the local contractors as additional costs,” he said in a statement today.

At the same time, Chong questioned why the Sarawak government refuses to allow those involved in the construction sector to import cement from overseas besides Thailand themselves.

He said the role of government agencies like SEDC and BDA is to facilitate economic activities and growth, not to add to the costs of business operation and construction of local contractors.

“Therefore, Sarawak DAP proposes that the State government liberalise the importation of cement, allowing any of those involved in the construction sector to import cement directly from overseas, not only Thailand but any country with cheaper and quality cement.

“For that, there should not be too much bureaucracy and ‘red tape’ in the import process.

“Now that the GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) is in both the Federal and State cabinets, it should be very easy to liberalise the importation of cement into Sarawak,” said Chong. — DayakDaily