Monday July 30, 2012
Sectoral economic value needed
By SHARIDAN M. ALI
PETALING JAYA: There is a need to measure the economic value of the Malaysian maritime industry in order for it to move forward, expand and realise full potential, says Maritime Institute of Malaysia (Mima) director-general Datuk Noor Aziz Yunan.
Without properly measuring the industry’s economic value, there would not be full appreciation of the worth of the maritime industry while the appropriate policy push could not be given and proper resources could not be allocated to effectively develop, manage and improve this vital industry, he said.
Speaking at a seminar on Assessing the Contribution of the Maritime Industry to Malaysia’s Economy organised by Mima, Noor Aziz said it would be useful to quantify the contribution of the maritime industry to further underscore its importance to the Government.
The Malaysian maritime industry encompasses a wide range of economic activities in sub-sectors such as cargo transportation and handling, shipbuilding and repairing, fishery, tourism, naval defence, offshore oil and gas support services.
He said although Malaysia had done relatively well to emerge as a maritime nation of some standing in areas such as port operations, shipping and offshore oil and gas, it could certainly achieve a lot more with a more systematic and holistic approach in developing its maritime industry.
“By being able to emphasize to the Government key figures such as the worth of the industry in ringgit terms, the revenue generated by the industry for the Government and its overall contribution to the economy, policymakers would be prompted to introduce specific policies and more incentives to players in the sector.
“Stronger support and sustained push by the Government will lead to greater investment in the industry, development and participation of talented human capital, emergence of more competitive local players and further growth of the industry,” he said.
These would lead to greater development, better management and an increase in the contribution of the industry to the economy, which could make Malaysia a truly world-class maritime nation, he added.
Mima senior fellow Nazery Khalid said the importance of the maritime industry to the economy was obvious but information and data was lacking to assess the contribution.
“Also lacking is an understanding and appreciation of the production structure of the industry and its synergy with other economic activities. A comprehensive plan to develop the industry is also not in picture.”
By having accurate data on the industry, Nazery said it would enable policymakers to appreciate the industry’s importance and potential, leading to stronger support and policy-making by the Government.
“It would also facilitate optimal allocation of resources, attract investment, lure talents, harness growth of other supporting sectors and aid the industry to realise its full potential,” he said.
On a more intricate details of the industry, Nazery said Malaysia’s sea area was four times its land mass and 95% of its trade by volume was transported by sea.
“Also, all of Malaysia’s hydrocarbon energy riches come from offshore sites. Oil, gas and energy sectors contributed RM127bil or 19 % to gross domestic products in 2009. Maritime transport attracted RM5.2bil investment in 2011.
“The seas also generate and facilitate many economic activities and provide fishery resources,” he said, adding that Malaysia’s maritime industry had a bright potential due to its strategic location in a dynamic economic region and along key shipping lanes connecting East-West trade.
Gagasan Carriers Sdn Bhd managing director Captain Johari Md Nor said the growth of Malaysian fleet (in term of gross tonnage) was phenomenal since 1970’s but had stagnated since 2009.
The growth was assisted by Government’s fiscal and legislative measures, including tax incentives and the introduction of cabotage policy in 1980, and Malaysia was ranked top 25 maritime countries in the world (UNCTAD Maritime Review 2010).
“But the recent sale of MISC Bhd container fleet has removed substantial tonnage from the Malaysian fleet. Going forward, the current global shipping downturn has and will continue to affect growth,” he said.