KOTA KINABALU: The 12th Malaysia Plan should include two Free Trade Zones (FTZ) to enable Sabah to be the preferred gateway for exports from BIMP-EAGA, said Small Medium Enterprise Association of Sabah (SME Sabah) President Foo Ngee Kee.
“Sabah needs a FTZ in Sepanggar covering Sabah’s West Coast and another in Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) covering Sabah’s East Coast,” he said in a statement, Tuesday.
He said having such FTZ would make Sabah a preferred gateway for agricultural exports and various other exports of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) to North Asia.
“Sabah is located in a strategic location in BIMP-EAGA and our historical close diplomatic relationship and bilateral trade with China gives Sabah the trade advantage with China especially,” he said.
Additionally, Foo said cooperative movement in developing entrepreneurs is very much needed in the production of farm produce amongst the many smallholders spread throughout Sabah’s rural areas.
“These farms, through the cooperative movement, are collectively an important part of the value chain to help shift MSMEs from a domestic focused market to the global market.
“Individually these farmers are unable to export as their production lacks scale and prices are uncompetitive internationally,” he said.
On the one stop centre to drive digitalisation, Foo said it would be helpful to increase productivity and market access across international borders for MSMEs.
“Developing a unified portal to facilitate MSMEs in obtaining essential information on financing resources and advisory services can give MSMEs a better understanding and access to these vital resources,” he said.
Meanwhile, Foo said the proposed second chance intervention programme to assist failed MSMEs and mitigate their risk of bankruptcy is a heartwarming gesture from the Government’s spirit of “Malaysian Family”.
“The appointment of a commissioner to assist MSMEs in securing payments on time and resolving payment disputes is a great way to give these MSME the much-needed working capital and cash flows to reboot their business, which has been devastated by the various movement restriction orders,” he said.
Additionally, accelerating the adoption of an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) will better ensure water security and sustainability.
He said having sufficient water supply is vital especially for economic sectors such as the hotel industry, which needs uninterrupted water supply for their hotel operations.
He said building new infrastructure for water conservancy services, such as dams, reservoirs, water treatment plants, and sewage treatment facilities and upgrading existing infrastructure can also help reduce flooding in the state.
Overall, Foo opined that the 12MP is a good economic recovery plan with both socio-economic provisions as part of the “Malaysian Family” spirit.
“The 12MP clearly identifies the main issues and challenges MSMEs are confronted with, and the proposed broad measures and strategies identified can help overcome a number of challenges faced by MSMEs.
He said the initiatives listed in the ‘Game Changer III: Transforming MSMEs as the New Driver of Growth” (pT1-6) and “Restoring Growth Momentum” strategies (Chapter 2, p2-14) are the way forward for transforming MSME into a more competitive business for their development and sustenance.
“Enhancing the competitiveness of MSME through shifting more MSME from the domestic market to the global market will enable them to scale up through exporting to achieve lower cost to enhance their competitiveness.
“It is now left to the speedy and effective implementation of the strategies proposed in the plan. For the benefit of Sabahans, everything listed in the 12MP should be effectively implemented as soon as possible,” said Foo. – DE