Bill timely for survival of timber operators
By:Ma Chee Seng
Date:
collage

KUCHING: The Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2022 is appropriate and timely as the timber industry needs to be more orderly and every industry player must operate within the law.

Minister in the Premier’s Department (Integrity and Ombudsman) Datuk Talib Zulpilip expressed his support for the bill today in the August House.

“This calls for specific amendments such as in Section 5A and 5D. The general manager of STIDC is empowered to close factories or operations which do not comply with or breach the conditions of the licence.

“There was a gathering involving big timber operators a number of years ago. The question of unhealthy practices within the industry were raised. It was also mentioned that enforcement officers would be issued with guns.

“Aerial surveillance would be provided. But the concern remained that some illegal operators might start their sawmill in the jungle and this has to stop because the timber industry is facing a competitive market, especially in developed countries. We have to get our act right. Otherwise we lose out,” he explained.

He added that the amendment would help the timber industry to survive in the long run.

Meanwhile, Dr Johnical Rayong Ngipa (PSB-Engkelili) cited section 5C(1)(b), which allows the temporary construction of a timber mill for domestic use.

He said small-scale timber mills for processing wood for domestic use are found in rural areas.

“Most of them have been operating for a long time but it is difficult for them to get a temporary permit even though they have applied many times from the STIDC.

“The existence of a factory to process wood for domestic use is necessary for rural areas and rural communities need small factories to obtain wood resources for building houses.

“This is because the resources they need are limited to get wood resources. In fact, the cost of buying processed wood products from small factories is cheaper than buying them from big factories,” he said.

He appealed to STIDC to assist existing small factories in rural areas to obtain temporary permits so that they could continue to operate for the benefit of the rural community.

He said that it has been made to understand by them that the STIDC is not very concerned about their application to obtain a permit all this time and he is afraid, section 5(C)(1)(b) will be used to prevent existing small factories from operating.

“The process to apply for a temporary permit is too complicated and this makes it difficult and burdensome for them, as their application needs to be brought to the ‘Industrial Co-ordination Committee (ICC) to get approval.”

He urged the STIDC to assist them in obtaining a temporary permit rather than preventing them from obtaining one, adding that the government should understand the needs of small wood factories in rural areas, which are for domestic use only and not for commercial operations.

“This is because the resources they need are limited to get wood resources. In fact, the cost of buying processed wood products from small factories is cheaper than buying them from big factories,” he said.

He appealed to STIDC to assist existing small factories in rural areas to obtain temporary permits so that they could continue to operate for the benefit of the rural community.

He said that it has been made to understand by them that the STIDC is not very concerned about their application to obtain a permit all this time and he is afraid, section 5(C)(1)(b) will be used to prevent existing small factories from operating.

“The process to apply for a temporary permit is too complicated and this makes it difficult and burdensome for them, as their application needs to be brought to the ‘Industrial Co-ordination Committee (ICC) to get approval.”

He urged the STIDC to assist them in obtaining a temporary permit rather than preventing them from obtaining one, adding that the government should understand the needs of small wood factories in rural areas, which are for domestic use only and not for commercial operations.

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