KOTA KINABALU: Minister of Agriculture YB Datuk Junz Wong rejected the suggestion to Cabotage reinstatement and called on the Federal govt to show the political will and determination to eliminate discriminations by abolishing the Cabotage policy and urged National Shipping & Port council (NSPC) to focus on carrying out their duties instead of getting involved in shipping businesses.
Junz who is also Vice President of Warisan Sabah reminded the Federal Govt that they have pledged to honour Sabah as equal partners and have promised to equalise the prices of commodities in Sabah as per in Malaya .
Junz was responding to local dailies report that “cabotage policy reinstatement is top NSPC council agenda”.
The call cannot be more unwelcoming as the cost of living in Sabah has been escalating at a scary pace and talk was rife that Sepanggar Port will be upgraded into an international port.
Abolishment of Cabotage 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 claimed that Cabotage policy 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, Junz said.
“Not only we Sabahans are paying higher prices due to the Cabotage policy, but when the EXEMPTION is implemented, their position here have be strengthened.” Junz stressed.
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 40 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 giving one example of how ridiculous the prices are due to “CARTEL” monopolistic behavior by the protected shipping companies, the result of cabotage policy after 30 years.
According to international standards, Junz explained that bunker charges (another component making up total transportation charges) are 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 quipped.
Junz Wong who is also the Tanjung Aru Assemblyman added that from 2010 to early 2012 the ever rising bunker charges have risen 58% 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 NSPC get involved ? Let private sector compete and let there be free market so the normal business people can be benefited out of this policy.” Junz 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 & abilities.
According to Malaysia’s merchant shipping capacity statistic from 2005-2009, their capacity as far as general cargo and full container 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!” Junz suspected.
According to total number of licenses issued by domestic shipping licensing board since 2005 to 2010 as far as container was concerned, 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
“One of the main reasons from the Maritime is to protect our domestic and coastal shipping industry and yes that’s what Cabotage policy is doing but in the expense of Sabahans and Sarawakians.” Junz recalled.
“Thus Warisan called to main abolishing Cabotage policy as one of the effective ways to reduce the price of goods in Sarawak and also Sabah.
Maintain your position that PH had always asserted that no Cabotage when they were opposition before it was abolished in June 2017.” Junz concluded.