Published on: Wednesday, January 02, 2013
Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Timber Industries Association (STIA) urged the State Government to relax the regulations on the import of raw materials so as to assist the timber downstream industries.
STIA President Datuk James Hwong, in his New Year message, said due to the shortage of raw materials, the Government should not impose or charge any fees to encourage the downstream industries to import.
"The next 10 years will be a lean period for the timber industries," he said, adding that the timber downstream industries' growth would depend very much on the Government.
Hwong said the requirement worldwide now is on green products, with the main concern being sustainability and legality of the timber.
"In order to survive, the only way is plantation timber.
"Cutting from the natural forest would have to be those from sustainable management and certified for its legality. Otherwise, it cannot be exported to developed countries," he said.
He said, as 2013 is an election year for the country, it is the hope of the majority that there won't be much change as well as the smooth continuity of the Government.
"Whoever wins must ensure economic development continue as usual and the people expect a transparent and pro-people government, especially towards the poor and underprivileged," he said.
Hwong said he does not expect Malaysia's economy, which is based on natural resources such as oil palm, timber and oil, to face any turmoil but remain stable.
"We will not suffer but progress would very much depend on developments in other countries," he said.
On the implementation of the RM800 minimum wage, he said there was a lot of concern and urged the Government to re-think the policy.
"We all agree that salary of workers must increase to a certain level but there must be flexibility. In the city, RM800 is certainly not enough but in rural areas, it is different because the cost of living is lower and there are fewer companies there and an abundance of labour supply.
"Some companies set up their operations in rural areas due to a number of factors, including cheap labour supply.
"The living standard is different in rural areas and if the RM800 minimum wage is to be imposed there, then companies operating there may have to close down as they not only have to look into the transportation costs but also pay more for salaries.
"So, hopefully, the Government can reconsider the minimum wage between the city and rural areas," he said.
On another note, Hwong said he felt that those who can afford should contribute 10-20 per cent of their profits back to society and help the poor and less privileged people.
"We made our money in Sabah and it is only right that we give back to assist the people.
This will also lessen the burden of the Government," he said.
He hoped 2013 will be better for everyone and the country will be more peaceful and prosperous.