Shafie: Those interested in barter trade can apply for licences online

KOTA KINABALU: Businessmen interested in barter trade between Sabah and its neighbouring countries - Indonesia and the Philippines - can apply through the Finance Ministry online.

Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said about 40 applications for barter trade have been approved in Kudat, Sandakan and Tawau.

The barter trade system had been revived earlier this year after a two-year ban.

“Under the new ruling, there will be no limit to the number of companies or individuals wanting to be part of the barter trade; these are some of the changes that have been approved to develop barter trade in Sabah, ” he said.

He said this after meeting with representatives from Indonesia and the Philippines during a barter trade briefing and launch at his office near here Monday (Aug 26).

Shafie said there will be screenings before applicants can be part of the barter trade as the government wants to ensure there will be quality and sustainability of goods provided.

“We do not want things to be done halfway, we want quality and we want efficiency, ” he said.

He said authorities from all three countries - Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia - will be working closely to ensure that the new guidelines and regulations are adhered to.

Shafie said the rules and guidelines were fine-tuned and agreed upon by not only the three countries involved but also by other Asean nations to ensure a smoother barter trade process and to prevent smuggling.

“We hope barter trade will be able to bring us closer in terms of culture and economy, ” he said, adding that the practice helped live up to the "prosper thy neighbour" idea aimed at reducing cross-border crime.

He said the main motive for the new state government to revive barter trade was to boost the economy.

With the Indonesian government’s recent proposal to move its capital city from Jakarta to Kalimantan, the revival of barter trade was seen as timely and a way to move forward.

Shafie said barter trade in the past had seen some failures that also caused the government losses of millions of ringgit.

“But with new governance and changes in economic needs and demands, there will be increased business and demand which will bring income for all countries involved, ” he said.

He said the Pan Borneo Highway project was also contributing to these new demands.

On other matters pertaining to requests to allow civil servants in Sabah be granted permanent residencies, he said anyone who fulfils the requirements set by the state government can apply for it.

“If the applicant fulfils the requirements to get a permanent residency in Sabah, we don’t see why not, ” Shafie said.

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