Increase in wood and timber export

Great work: Zuraida visiting the MTC vaccination centre in Olak Lempit, Banting. Looking on are Wee (second from left) and Muhtar (right). — CHAN TAK KONG/The Star

BANTING: Export of wood and timber-based products have been lucrative for the country with an increase by 20.7% in the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year, says Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin.She added that the exported products were worth RM12bil.

The five main wood products that are exported comprised furniture (RM5.54bil), plywood (RM1.54bil), sawn timber (RM1.16bil), wood fibre (RM350mil), and wood mouldings (RM520mil).

“The timber industry is very lucrative for our country. Although we are in this Covid-19 situation, we could still increase the exports of these products,” she said yesterday during a visit to the Olak Lempit vaccination centre under the Vaccination Programme for the Agri-Commodity Sector (Vacoms).

Zuraida said the increase in the timber exports were due to low global supply of the products.

On another matter, Zuraida said that the Olak Lempit vaccination centre for workers in the industry has vaccinated 10,005 workers in the timber industry, of which about 9,000 have been fully vaccinated.

The programme between MTC and the Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) began on July 28 and will end tomorrow.

The MTC has allocated RM1.3mil for vaccination programmes in Peninsular Malaysia, giving subsidies of RM30 for every vaccinated worker.

Zuraida said that the Vacoms programme was launched to prevent workplace Covid-19 clusters and to create a safer environment for the industry.

“We hope more agencies will open vaccination centres to ensure all workers in the agro commodities industry get their vaccines,” she said.

She proposed for Vacoms to be merged with the Community Vaccine Mobilisation (Movak) programme under the Housing and Local Government Ministry.

This was to ensure that the vaccine would be able to reach more people in rural and remote areas.

“Movak has a logistics team that can go to remote areas and we will deploy our mobile unit to reach out to more people at plantations that are located in remote areas,” she said.

Among those present at the event were deputy minister Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng, ministry secretary-general Datuk Ravi Muthayah and Malaysian Timber Council CEO Muhtar Suhaili.

Muhtar said that the timber industry was not allowed to operate for almost two months this year because of the pandemic, which has cost the industry losses of about RM60mil per day.

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