THE International Trade and In- dustry Ministry (Miti) is reviewing the Industrial Coordination Act (ICA) and the Promotion of Investments Act (PIA) to ensure their continued relevance, according to its minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz.
The current acts are quite out-of-date and I hope all sectors of trade and industry will forward input during this revision process for us to come up with amendments to make the acts more proactive, Rafidah said when addressing representatives of 12 local industry associations at the first session of the Miti annual dialogue 2003 yesterday.
To be held today and Thursday, the dialogue comprises six sessions with different sectors that are involved in trade and industry.
Rafidah also informed the dialogue delegates that the government had set up the Cabinet Committee on National Competitiveness (CCNC), chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, to review policies and procedures that impeded national competitiveness.
The CCNC provides for policy direction and monitors implementation of initiatives to enhance public delivery system. Miti is the secretariat of the committee. The CCNC decisions have been submitted to the Cabinet and its decisions will be incorporated in the economic stimulus package to be announced soon, she said, adding that there were no specific dates for the presentation of the package.
Rafidah also touched on the effects of the US-led invasion on Iraq and the effect of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) on global trade.
Although people are discouraged from travelling for fear of contracting SARS, businesses globally can still maintain their momentum through the Internet, she said.
Rafidah said it was one of the ways businesses could still carry on without being adversely affected by cancellations of meetings and deferments of regional conferences and seminars.
To counter these effects, the government has decided to lift visa restrictions on Hong Kong, Taiwan and Canada while stringent restrictions remain for China and Vietnam.
The decision was made as the government was satisfied with the measures taken by the affected countries to stop the transmission of the virus, Rafidah said.
She said that in all situations that had an impact on industry, Miti represented the interests of the business community to ensure that policy directives had taken into account the needs of the industry while not compromising on the safety of the country.
Rafidah also said a total of 198 projects, with investments of RM4.56bil, were approved between January and February this year.
Of this, 97 were new projects involving investment of RM3.1bil and 101 expansion or diversification projects with investments of RM1.4bil, she said.
Rafidah said the adoption of the fast-track mechanism for approval of manufacturing licences in non-sensitive industries introduced in January this year yielded positive results with 20% of applicant companies receiving approvals within seven days.
It used to take two months, then the procedure was shortened to a two-week wait for approval and now, the ministry can process and give its approval within a seven-day working period, she said.
Domestic investment constituted 58% or RM2.6bil of the total investments approved while foreign investment amounted to RM1.8bil.
These investments boosted the job market, creating 17,059 jobs of which 3,173 or 19% were in the managerial, technical or supervisory levels while another 6,928 were for skilled manpower.
Of the total number of projects approved, 29 with investment of RM588.9mil were granted incentives, 18 given pioneer status and 11 with approved investment tax allowance. Of these, , 18 were Malaysia-owned projects.
The three-day dialogue will see the representation of 118 associations and close to 287 issues raised, of which 122 are new issues and the remainder repetitions from previous years.
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