Upgraded Sabah Trade Centre will drive SME growth, says minister

KOTA KINABALU: The primary goal of the redevelopment initiative for the Sabah Trade Centre (STC) is to provide the people with a modern and effective trade hub that can drive economic development for local small and medium enterprises (SMEs), says Datuk Phoong Jin Zhe (pic).

The state Industrial Development and Entrepreneurship Minister said he welcomed suggestions and ideas from stakeholders to revitalise the dilapidated STC.

"Initially, a previous government (had agreed) to sell the prime land but the current state Cabinet agreed to reverse the decision last year and retain the STC, which is now under the purview of my ministry," he said in a statement on Friday (Feb 23).

"We will not sell the land, this is for certain.

"The decision to withdraw the sale of the land, which was initially made about a decade ago, reflects the government's commitment to prioritising the interests of Sabahans,” Phoong added.

ALSO READ: Decision to redevelop Sabah's trade centre questioned by GRS leaders

On Thursday (Feb 22), Usno president Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee questioned the move to redevelop STC.

Pandikar and Yong also wanted to know the rationale for redeveloping the building just because it did not have an occupation certificate (also known as a certificate of fitness for occupation).

The two Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) leaders said some renovations would suffice for the building, which sits on 2.8ha of prime land in Likas here, to be safe for use.

They said there was no necessity for it to be redeveloped by private companies into a highrise.

Phoong said the decision not to sell the land paved the way for a fresh start and the opportunity to reimagine STC as a vibrant hub for SMEs and trade activities.

"We are committed to ensuring that the STC becomes a beacon of economic growth and provides a platform for Sabahan entrepreneurs.

“We are not selling STC or the land to any private (firm)," he said.

He added that he welcomed the recent idea from Sabah SME Association president Prof Datuk Foo Ngee Kee to rejuvenate STC as an SME Hub.

“This aligns perfectly with the ministry's aspirations and direction.

"Instead of just patching things up here and there, we envision an inclusive rejuvenation that ensures STC is fully functional and supports the growth of SMEs," Phoong said.

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