KOTA KINABALU: Sabah businessmen believe that the exemption of the cabotage shipping fees will see a drop in food prices for their state and Sarawak , says Sabah United Chinese Chamber of Commerce (SUCCC) president Datuk Seri Gan Lau Wah.
“It is good news for Sabahans. With this liberalisation, we foresee a drop in the prices of goods.
“It will benefit the people, especially those living in rural areas,” he said yesterday in response to the announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that the cabotage policy would be exempted for Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan from June 1.
Gan said that the Chambers had sought an exemption or abolishment of the cabotage policy for a long time, as it caused prices of goods to be 20% to 30% higher in Sabah than in the peninsula.
Federation of Sabah Industries president Datuk Mohd Basri Gafar also believes that the prices of goods would drop following the latest decision.
However, he said the federation would wait for the full details of the cabotage exemption before it makes further comments.
The cabotage policy was introduced in the 1980s to promote Port Klang as the country’s main trans- shipment hub.
Goods from outside the country were required to go through the port before being shipped to Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.
The exemption covers shipment of goods between any port in the peninsula and any port in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan, as well as between ports within Sabah and Sarawak.
Meanwhile, good relations between federal and state governments under Barisan Nasional resolved long-standing issues that hampered progress in Sabah, says Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) deputy president Datuk Chin Su Phin.
Chin said the Federal Government pays more attention to Sabah and Sarawak, as seen in the announcement on the cabotage policy.
He said that the policy was among many issues raised by the state government, which sought the restoration of state rights through a special committee .
“Today, the effectiveness of the committee is starting to show,” he said.
“We hope the exemption of Sabah and Sarawak from the cabotage policy will reduce the price of goods in Sabah, or at least lower it to the same level as those in the peninsula,” he said.