THE BUSINESS and manufacturing community in Perak must adapt and innovate in order to overcome matters beyond its control, says Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) Perak branch chairman Datuk Lim Si Boon.
Lim said business must go on despite the implementation of unpopular initiatives and policies by both the federal and state governments.
“Unpopular policy measures implemented at the federal level this year, such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST), and the increase in development charges at the state level have negatively impacted business sentiments.
“However, we must also recognise that significant investments pledged to Perak have come to fruition in the hospitality and manufacturing sector. We have more flights to Ipoh and tourism is thriving,” he said during Perak MICCI’s 103rd anniversary luncheon in Ipoh last week.
Lim said MICCI prefers to look at things positively, with the belief that more can be done to support and promote businesses in the state.
“We must not be complacent. We need to recognise that Perak is not isolated from these policies, as well as circumstances such as the slowing economy, volatile ringgit and haze.
“We cannot turn back, but MICCI will continue to represent and engage both the state and federal governments to work on these unpopular policies.
“Business goes on. We adapt and we innovate to succeed and thrive,” he said.
Lim added that while it is understood that some things are beyond the control of the Perak government, there are opportunities for the state to support businesses, for example by reducing assessment rates, reducing development costs, as well as improving infrastructure and security.
“We hope the state will review assessment rates in Ipoh. I understand that what we pay is relatively low, but the rate still stands at almost 16%.
“Of course property valuations are lower [in Perak], but for new businesses that come up in new locations, valuations are higher and with high assessment rates, it is actually something of a deterrent,” he said.
In his speech, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir said the state is fully aware of the increasing cost of doing business as a result of the GST, rising labour and material costs, and weakness of the ringgit.
“The state certainly welcomes the feedback and suggestions from the business community on ways to mitigate the hardship arising from the current state of affairs,” he said.
Zambry added that the International Trade and Industry Ministry will be looking into assisting the Perak government to build a 66km gas pipeline from Ayer Tawar to Lahat.
“The proposal for the gas pipeline was actually brought up by the state two years ago, but until now it hasn’t been successful.
“The state will continue to monitor the progress of the proposed gas pipeline and will take every effort to ensure the proposal becomes a reality soon,” he said.
Zambry went on to highlight Perak’s overall performance, which he termed as satisfactory.
“We occupy the fourth position among all states in the country.
“From January to June, 15 projects were approved, with total investments of RM2.99bil, while foreign investments outnumbered domestic investments.
“Foreign investments stood at RM2.57bil and domestic investments at RM423.54mil,” he said, adding that the sectors with high foreign investment scores are fabricated metal products and wood products.
Zambry said the state’s gross domestic product growth over the past few years has been steady, expanding between 5.3% and 7.1% annually since 2010.
“Under the Perak Industrial Development Action Plan, the state aims to have its manufacturing sector contribute 25% to the state GDP by 2020, up from the current 19%,” he added.
Also present at the luncheon were the High Commissioner of Singapore to Malaysia Vanu Gopalan Menon, MICCI president Datuk Jalilah Baba and Performance Management and Delivery Unit Electrical and Electronics and Innovation director Datuk Christopher Tan Chee Keong.