KUCHING: Four more food and beverage (F&B) manufacturers in Sarawak have applied for sugar import permits for the consumption of their respective factories, said Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Deputy Minister Chong Chieng Jen in a statement yesterday.

He invited more F&B manufacturers to submit their applications by simply writing in to the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, adding that applicants need to provide information regarding the amount of sugar required annually for their production.

“This is the ministry’s new policy to liberalise sugar supply in Sarawak,” Chong said, adding that this was an effort to reduce the costs of production of food and beverage in the state.

“This is a sharp contrast with the previous monopoly policy of Barisan Nasional (BN) where all local F&B manufacturers were compelled to buy sugar from only two sugar refineries in Malaysia, namely MSM Malaysia Holdings Bhd (MSM) and Central Sugar Refinery Sdn Bhd (CSR),” he stated.

According to Chong, the price of sugar supplied by sugar refineries in Thailand is less than RM2 per kg inclusive of transport costs, while the price of sugar supplied by the two Malaysian refineries to Sarawak F&B manufacturers is about RM2.70 per kg.

“As such, huge savings can be achieved by the Sarawak F&B manufacturers with the grant of the sugar import permits,” he said.

Chong, who is also Pakatan Harapan Sarawak chairman, expressed regret over Sarawak United People’s Party’s (SUPP) continued campaign to smear and defame him on the liberalisation policy of the new

“However, I believe that SUPP’s sabotage of this new policy will not go very far as more and more F&B manufacturers start to apply for and get the sugar import permits,” he said.

He felt that SUPP’s actions only help the two local sugar refineries to continue exploiting Sarawak’s F&B

In relation to SUPP’s threat to lodge a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on the new liberalisation policy and making the allegation on Chong receiving kickbacks, Chong said that SUPP is free to do as it wishes.

“However, if SUPP genuinely wants to know who the recipients are, the proper channel is to get the SUPP member of parliament (MP) or any of the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs to submit a question in Parliament,” Chong said.