The Federation of Sabah Industries (FSI) will work with the new state and federal governments to uplift the economy of Sabah and Malaysia to greater heights.
"We hope the Sabah International Convention Centre will be completed this year in time to be operational early next year" FSI president Datuk Mohd Basri Abdul Gafar said he extended felicitations to the leaders of the new governments.
Touching on Sabah's ambition to be a leading MICE venue, Basri said this was vital to the success of FSI's hosting of the Sabah International Expo (SIE 2019) next year with MICCI to promote trade, attract international participation and investment to Sabah.
He added that the Pan Borneo Highway should be realised as soon as possible to boost the economy of Sabah and Sarawak with better connectivity, lowering transportation time, costs and boosting tourism growth.
Basri also noted that with the cancellation of the GST regime by June 1, FSI's recommendation to lower the GST rate to improve business and socio-economic conditions may be realised soon.
FSI, he said, was ready to share its expertise with the relevant new ministries and ministers to plan and implement policies for the betterment of Sabah as well as Malaysia as a component member country of BIMP-EAGA.
And, in order to boost Sabah's cheaper and more reliable energy supply from Sabah's own gas fields that would benefit not only the business sector but also the public, Basri expressed the hope that the gas pipeline link to the east coast of Sabah from Kimanis planned would be implemented as soon as possible.
"This will help to boost Sabah's industrialisation drive with the setting up of more industrial estate clusters in other towns and districts" he said, adding that this was crucial to help improve Sabah's rather shallow industrial structure and high import propensities which suggested many possibilities for more import-substitution industrialisation, boosting employment opportunities with higher wage potential based on increased productivity.
"FSI and related organisations call for consultation over government's intention to review the minimum wage level which will have a major business cost impact on SMEs and micro-enterprises.
"In view of reported review of policies and restructuring by the new government, FSI hopes that the suspension of the Cabotage policy by the previous Ministry of Transport will lead to its abolishment to be publicised widely and globally, to attract ships to use Sapangar Port as a "Hub of the Far East" Basri said.
He also said they noted that statistics showed a slight improvement in the number of freight liner ships calling at Sapangar Port since the suspension of the Cabotage policy.
"While considerable industrial development has taken place, the potential for further import-substitution remains neglected in the past though imports grew rapidly since the mid-1980s and the economy industrial structure remained shallow due to market access and shipping costs.
"The export-oriented industrial production needs to develop a far more integrated economic structure and amongst the problems faced in the pursuit of industrialisation are imported dependence, as well as high logistics and shipping costs, other than reliable and cost-efficient power and water supplyâ€.
Meanwhile, he said while Sabah's domestic inter-sectorial linkages were improving, it was crucial for cooperation between the government and private sectors to assess what would enhance induced positive development.
Sabah's trade ratio to GDP (growth domestic product) had increased steadily over the years, implying the state is slowly integrating its economy with the rest of the world as well as regionally.
Sabah has relatively much lower GDP in particular contributed by its business eco-system that has relatively low in output by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) comparatively to some other states.
Hence Basri said FSI was a commitment to providing training to upgrade skills and technology, boost productivity, and enhance the growth of SMEs in Sabah and mentor-coach micro enterprises particularly assisting key Bumiputera start-ups and entrepreneurs with the cooperation of the federation's successful member companies.