KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia In a move to revive Malaysia’s maritime industry, the Malaysia Shipowners’ Association (MASA) today called on the new government, led by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, to establish a ministry for maritime affairs.
Chairman Abdul Hak Md Amin said the maritime industry needed a ministry specially to look into maritime affairs including assets (such as oil rigs, marine parks), ports, shipping lanes and infrastructure in the domestic scene.
“Sea-borne trade accounted for 95 per cent of Malaysia’s total trade and these assets are vital to the industry,” he said, while congratulating Pakatan Harapan (PH) on its election victory.
Currently, maritime, land and air transportation are under the purview of the Transport Ministry.
Abdul Hak recalled that it was during Dr Mahathir’s reign, that the Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA) or formerly known as the Malaysian Institute of Maritime Affairs, was established, and the premier also expanded and built ports aside from being the mastermind behind the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA), which is still being held until today.
“I believe the maritime industry is close to his heart, not to mention during Dr Mahathir’s era, Malaysian ships’ tonnage had surged, reaching 15 million dead weight tonnage (dwt).
However, over the years, it has since reduced to less than 10 million dwt.
“In 2017, we recorded a freight loss of RM25 billion as cargo was transported by foreign vessels,” he told Bernama via a telephone interview today .
However, one way to reduce freight losses is to increase the national fleet. The government can provide incentives, loans with low interest or funds to shipping companies to purchase vessels.
On the call to abolish the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Abdul Hak said such a move would spur the growth of the maritime industry, as well as, lift supporting industries.
“This will help local shipbuilders to market their building capabilities to local shipowners,” he added.
On the cabotage policy, he opined that it should be strengthened rather than be liberalised as it protected the business of local companies.
Effective June 1, 2017, Sabah, Sarawak and the Federal Territory of Labuan will no longer be bound by the cabotage policy imposed on all cargo shipping services between Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.
Commenting on corporate tax, Abdul Hak hoped to see the government abolish the tax imposed on offshore support vessels, tugboats and ferries.
With this abolishment, local players would be able to purchase more of these assets, instead of relying on foreign vessels.
Meanwhile, Muhibbah Marine Engineering Sdn Bhd (MMESB) Director Ooi Kien Chuan said Dr Mahathir had shown interest towards developing the Malaysian shipyard industry during his previous helm.
Echoing MASA’s view, Ooi said it was time for the establishment of a dedicated ministry as the maritime industry was a lucrative business.
“Conservatively speaking, it is worth between RM2 billion and RM5 billion in turnover on an annual basis, which involves ship building and repairing, offshore construction, ship conversion, among others,” he added.
On GST, he said, the removal would certainly make the industry more competitive, both locally and internationally.
Source: NAM News Network