MASTER Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM) wants the Government to consider re-pegging the ringgit to a more competitive rate to reflect the currencys true value.
The re-pegging from the present RM3.80 per US dollar would reduce the import duty on materials, machinery and equipment, it said in a statement issued at an annual dialogue with International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
MBAM said the peg was introduced to ensure a stable exchange rate environment for trade and business, but this had proved otherwise with the instability and continuing depreciation of the US dollar over the past year.
In the past, the association said, the ringgit had depreciated substantially against all major currencies, particularly the euro, Japanese yen and Australian dollar, but not against the US dollar and currencies backed by the US dollar.
This has made imports of materials, machinery, equipment and other services very expensive.
MBAM said the reduction or abolishment of import duties on construction machinery and parts could form part of efforts to reduce dependence on foreign workers.
It said the import duty on earth-moving equipment, machinery and parts was still high although tariff relief was provided under the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) arrangement. However, there was still no official announcement on this matter.
The association stressed the construction industry did not receive assistance in terms of capital expenditure relief to modernise and industrialise its members' operations.
As such, incentives such as double taxation benefits should be accorded to encourage modernisation and industrialisation.
Turning to steel products, MBAM asked the Government to maintain the temporary lifting of approved permit, abolishment of import duty and ban on export of steel bars/billets. Bernama