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Friday, May 23, 2008

Builders: Customs still demands permits for steel bars

SOME government agencies still demand contractors to apply for approved permits (APs ) to import steel bars, despite Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi having declared that the steel bar and billet market has been fully liberalised from May 12.

OPEN CEMENT MARKET: Wong (left) with Asli Chief Executive Officer Datuk Dr Michael Yeoh. Contractors have been told that the implementation date will be 'announced anytime soon'

"Our members on May 15 had wanted to import steel bars, but the Johor Customs Department at entry point had told them to apply for an AP," said Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM) president Patrick Wong told reporters after the preview of the First Malaysian Construction Summit 2008 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

"They were also told to apply for APs to stockpile steel bars at the worksite," he said.

He said the association is saddened that there is a lack of follow-through when it comes to the implementation of the Cabinet's decision to liberalise the steel bar and billet market.

"We have written to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry on this matter," he added.

The government had scrapped the ceiling prices on steel bars from May 12 to enable contractors undertaking government projects to claim for changes in the contract price based on the market price.

In addition, contractors are no longer required to apply for APs to import or pay import duties when they buy steel bars from the overseas market.

There is also no export restriction on steel millers to sell steel bars and billets to their overseas clients.

On the government's move to open up the local cement market, Wong said contractors were told that the implementation date will be announced "anytime soon".

The First Malaysian Construction Summit 2008, which is jointly organised by MBAM and the Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (Asli), will be held on June 3 in Kuala Lumpur.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad is scheduled to deliver the keynote address on ways to solve supply-chain bottlenecks in the construction industry.

By New Straits Times

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