KUALA LUMPUR: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Mohd Shafie Apdal said the state government is mulling a permanent ban on log exports from the current temporary status to ensure sustained growth in timber downstreaming and furniture industry.
Following the win of Pakatan Harapan government at the 14th General Elections and his accession as Sabah Chief Minister, Shafie and his newly-formed team had at the end of May this year, enforced a temporary ban on log export and review on logging concessionaires.
“The way forward for Sabah is downstreaming and industrialisation. We are serious about intensifying training and job creation for Sabahans,” said Shafie.
“By banning log exports, we are ensuring adequate and competitive-priced raw materials for the downstream timber sector related to woodworking and furniture-making,” he told reporters in a briefing here today.
Also present were Sabah Deputy Chief Minister
Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok, Malaysian Timber Council chairman Datuk Low Kian Chuan, Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) chairman Wong Tack and MTIB director-general Datuk Dr Jalaluddin Harun.
Kok supported Shafie and his teams initiative to consider a permanent ban on log exports to boost growth of downstreaming timber activities.
She noted that Malaysia was one of the world's top tropical timber producers, of which the furniture sector is its star performer being among the world's Top 10 producer.
“The timber, plywood and furniture-making sector has tremendous potential for growth. We want to press on with value adding our commodity from the current 40 per cent of exports to 60 per cent.
“Peninsula Malaysia has banned log exports since 1985. We want to encourage more skills training in woodwork design and carpentry,” Kok said.
Prior to winning the 14th General Elections, the Pakatan Harapan manifesto had pledged to give 20 per cent oil royalties to oil-producing states.
When asked on the latest outcome of discussion between Sabah government and the Federal government, Shafie said: “Talks are still ongoing.”
Two months ago, in an interview with TV3 Soal Rakyat programme, he highlighted Sabah as one of the largest contributors of oil and gas to Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas).
He said the distribution of oil royalties as per the Sabah and Sarawak under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) did not involve Terengganu and Kelantan. Singapore is also no longer party to it.
Shafie acknowledged Petronas had and continues to spend billions of ringgit in extraction oil and gas but one must remember the resources comes from Sabah.
With a distribution of 20 per cent oil royalties instead of just five per cent, he said three to four million more Sabahans would stand to benefit from better infrastructure.
“We want the federal government to look at this. We are also not looking into one-off oil royalty payments. Staggered payments are sufficient,” Shafie had reportedly said then.