Shelves at duty-free stores across the island are wiped clean of goods, and are staying empty for nearly a month now, as the stores are struggling to quickly restock them everyday, much to the dismay of local consumers and travellers.
Labuan Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCCI) president Datuk Wong Kii Yii said the only shipping line (transporting cargo) calling at Labuan Port twice a month was to blame for the supply disruption.
"Delays of several weeks are having a huge impact on businesses, especially to the image of Labuan, as a duty-free-island. Labuan’s economy is slowly rebounding, but challenges still lie ahead.
"We are optimistic that Labuan’s economy is poised for a rebound after enduring COVID-19 in the last two years that had taken a heavy toll on the people and businesses,” he told Bernama today.
Kii Yii said some importers have resorted to importing their cargoes (from Singapore and European countries) through the Sepanggar Port in Sabah to ensure business continuity, thus incurring enormous transportation costs to bring goods to the island.
"One of our members, who runs a duty-free shop, is a case in point. He usually brings in two to three containers of a variety of goods, including branded chocolates from European countries and Singapore, every month. But his (non-liquor) shelves are now empty, as there is nothing to sell,” he said.
He said the chamber would write to the Minister of Transport on the issue as late cargo delivery means its members would continue to struggle to keep the supply chains afloat.
"But it was unclear at this stage whether the situation was the result of an anti-competitive behaviour or whether any intervention from regulators might be warranted.
"We are discussing with market participants to fully understand the current circumstances, and consider the ways forward,” he said. - Bernama