Look into restructuring, diversifying economy: Body

KOTA KINABALU: The government should look into restructuring the economy and diversifying revenue-generating industries to achieve a more sustainable economy, said Federation of Sabah Manufacturers (FSM) president Datuk Wong Khen Thau.

“In order to increase our GDP, the government should focus on the service industry as it has gained momentum and had generated more revenue in the past one to two years,” he said when asked to comment on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s 2010 budget yesterday.

The service industry he meant included education, financial services, transportation and tourism.

“There is room for development for tourism and education, just like England, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States where education services contributed a large part to their revenue.”

According to Wong, Malaysia’s economy depends too heavily on the manufacturing and electronic sectors, up to 30 per cent.

“When the world market decreased due to the economic crisis, Malaysia as an exporting country was greatly affected, not to mention having China as a strong competitor in the export trade.”

He added that the future of Sabah and Sarawak is bright for the next five to 10 years as the development of Peninsular Malaysia is almost saturated.

“We have an advantage in the agriculture and resource-based industries; even China sees the potential in East Malaysia.This is true for Sabah, he said, as the state produces palm oil, rubber and timber which are well-received by other countries,” he said.

“If we can make use of these raw material supplies and strengthen our downstream production, we can be better than any other country.”

Wong also stressed the importance of making Kota Kinabalu as a hub port.

“Currently we import 70 per cent of our products from China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea.

“If Kota Kinabalu can be a hub port to receive imported products and distribute them to other places, it will be much cheaper for Sabahans,” he said, but adding that it will not be easy to compete with Singapore.

Christopher Chong, 50, said the first step towards achieving a high income society is to increase the salary of the lower income group.

“This can be done by fixing a minimum salary for their work.

“The price of property keeps rising, it is affecting them greatly, making their life more difficult.”

He added that corruption is another serious issue as part of the income of the public goes to corruption, in situations such as buying properties, taking the vehicle licence examination and bringing a company’s vehicle for inspection.

“The government should also reduce imported vehicle tax as a car is a necessity.

“It is far more expensive to buy a car here than other countries such as Australia and England.”

However, he has his doubts whether the cabinet or the Prime Minister will take the general public’s opinion seriously.

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