24th July, 2012
KOTA KINABALU: The State Government is looking into ways of reducing the prices of goods through improvements in the operation and efficiency of the Sabah Ports Authority (SPA).
To achieve this, they would be having a series of roundtable dialogue sessions with the Chinese business community to get their feedback.
The first in the series of sessions took place at Wisma Innoprise here yesterday before proceeding on to Tawau, Lahad Datu, Sandakan, Kudat, Keningau and Tenom.
The government is represented by Chinese leaders from its Barisan Nasional component parties, namely, Datuk Edward Khoo Keok Hai from MCA, Datuk Edward Yong Oui Fah (PBS), Datuk Teo Chee Kang (LDP) and Au Kam Wah (Gerakan).
Khoo, who is also the Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister Department, would be chairing the dialogue sessions under the directive from the Chief Minister.
The session yesterday was attended by the representatives from Ministry of Infrastructure, SPA, Suria Capital, Sandakan Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Tawau Chinese Chamber of Commerce chairman.
Seven out of the eight members of the Sabah Shipping Agents Association also attended.
“So basically everybody is here and we will try to listen to their story, what is the complaint and what is the explanation, hopefully we can find a win-win situation for everybody,” Khoo told reporters yesterday.
“Some of them are good suggestions to improve the efficiency of SPA at various ports and at the same time we hope to reduce the charges so that the goods will cost less in Sabah,” he said.
The outcome from the meetings would be discussed with the Chief Minister, he said.
“So if there are any policy decisions which need changes then we have to refer to the Chief Minister to make the necessary amendment,” he said.
During the first round of the sessions yesterday, he said, the Sandakan Chinese Chamber of Commerce were reportedly unhappy with the congestion charges being imposed at the Sandakan and Tawau ports, since it had already been waived at Kota Kinabalu port effective in 2003.
“The issue was raised because at that time, the SPA had promised that when the Sandakan and Tawau ports hit more than 12 containers turnaround time then it will be waived,” explained Khoo.
The Sandakan Chinese Chamber also highlighted the charges imposed on empty containers, basic infrastructure and the performance inside the ports, he said.
“This is a good chance for everybody to have their opinions because if there is some misunderstanding we can trash it out today,” said Khoo.
The meeting did not touch on the Cabotage policy. However, Khoo said, the State Government had already taken action and the Deputy Prime Minister had promised the issue will be looked into.