Oleh Chris Maskilone
KOTA KINABALU: Minister of Agriculture Datuk Junz Wong has called on the Federal government to show political will and determination to eliminate discriminations by abolishing the Cabotage policy.
The Vice President of Parti Warisan Sabah reminded the Federal Government that they have pledged to honour Sabah as equal partners and have promised to standardise the price of goods in Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia.
“The call for the reinstatement of the cabotage policy cannot be more unwelcoming as the cost of living in Sabah has been escalating at a scary pace.
“Talk is rife that the Sepanggar Port will be upgraded into an international port,” he said in response to reports that the national ports and maritime council was calling for the reinstatement of the cabotage policy.
Junz said the abolishment of the cabotage policy will certainly help to reduce the cost of logistics and transportation and thus lowering down the cost of doing business and hence the cost of living in Sabah.
Junz said the Cabotage policy had only succeeded in creating a “monopolistic cartel” which protected a few shipping companies at the expense of Sabahans and Sarawakians.
“This has lasted more than 30 years and my understanding was previous BN Federal Govt had even granted them a block exemption.
“Not only we Sabahans are paying higher prices due to the Cabotage policy, but when the exemption is implemented, their position here have been strengthened,” he said.
In relation to this, he called on the Federal Govt to review or reject their applications (if haven’t been granted) or remove the protection with regards to the block exemption.
“These shipping companies protected under the Cabotage policy can earn between RM4 million per year (smaller companies) and up to over RM40 million per year (larger companies).
“And on top of that, these companies and related agencies are also exempted from paying tax.”
“Transportation charges from KK to Port Klang is more expensive than charges from KK to GuangZhou,” he said, adding this was an example of the price due to the shipping cartel monopoly.
According to international standards, Junz explained that bunker charges (another component making up total transportation charges) were determined by individual shipping company accordingly to their costs but “here, we follow one price only as a result of cabotage policy!”
“Is this fair to Sabah and Sarawak?,” he asked.
Junz who is also the Tanjung Aru Assemblyman added that from 2010 to early 2012 the ever rising bunker charges have risen by 58 per cent and this ridiculous unexplained charge is still going up today.
“Why protect them at the expense of Sabahans? They are earning so much money from us and how long do we have to protect these companies?”
“Why should the maritime get involved ? Let the private sector compete and let there be free market so the normal business people can benefit out of this policy,” he said.
Junz added that more ridiculous was that the shipping companies despite being protected for so many years have put in little efforts into increasing their shipping capacity via ship handling strength and abilities.
According to the Malaysia’s merchant shipping capacity statistic from 2005-2009, the capacity as far as general cargoes and full containers were concerned has remained stagnant all these years.
“What makes it even more absurd was that these shipping companies even outsourced to both foreign and local shippers when they ran out of capacity to handle.
“This may also be the reason for the stagnant growth in capacity because they outsourced to foreign shippers,” he said.
According to the total number of licenses issued by the domestic shipping licensing board since 2005 to 2010 as far as container was concerned, it has shown significant increase in licenses issued to foreign shippers than local ones.
“Why can’t these protected companies buy more ships and increase their capacities to compete at international level?” Junz asked
Junz urged the Pakatan Harapan to maintain its position on the Cabotage Policy.-SabahNewsToday