Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) chairman Tan Sri Ahmad Tajuddin Ali (fourth from left) and Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) president Foo Chek Lee (third from left) at the cutting ribbon ceremony, launching the MBAM Building and Construction Conference 2017 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center today. (NSTP Pic by ASWADI ALIAS)

KUALA LUMPUR: Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) has called for the reduction of import duties for heavy machinery used to make Industrialised Building System (IBS) components.

"Heavy machinery used in the construction industry has high import duties ranging between 20 and 30 per cent, said MBAM president Foo Chek Lee.

"Since the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, two years ago, contractors have to pay more to bring in the heavy machinery, on top of the very high import duties," he said.

Foo was speaking with reporters after the opening ceremony of the inaugural MBAM OneBuild Exhibition 2017 here today.

Also present were Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) chairman Tan Sri Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Ali, CIDB senior general manager Datuk Elias Ismail, MBAM immediate past president Datuk Matthew Tee Kai Woon and MBAM secretary-general Dennis Tan Soo Huang.

Foo then explained that local suppliers importing these heavy machinery are facing a market reduction and decline in sales because they would have to increase the prices due to the import duties.

"We believe more large scale implementation of the IBS would reduce our dependency on unskilled manual foreign labour and increase productivity and safety at the construction sites," he said.

This year alone, Foo said MBAM estimated RM138 billion worth of project rollout. In the next three years, he added, the total project value would be in the region of RM350 billion.

When asked to comment on 2018 Budget tabled before Parliament last week, Foo noted the affordable housing, rural housing, hospitals, roads and infrastructure upgrades such as airports are people-centric projects that will have significant multiplier effects on Malaysia economy.

He then highlighted these planned infrastructure spending would require more manpower to implement these projects within the time frame and budget.

“MBAM seeks closer engagement with the government to finetune policy on the hire of foreign workers for the benefit of all stakeholders. Ultimately, these are aimed at higher contribution to Malaysia's economic growth," he added.

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