KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 (Bernama) -- Minister of International Trade andIndustry Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz has proposed that all ministries andgovernment agencies set up a "reference centre" for the private sector tochannel their complaints.
"The proposal would be brought up to the Cabinet tomorrow," she said ather ministry's annual dialogue with the wood and wood-based industry aswell as the palm oil and food processing industries here Tuesday.
Rafidah said all letters of complaint needed to have a timeline forresponse as this would help to reduce wastage in terms of cost and time onthe private sector's side.
She said the ministries or government agencies could make use of theirexisting workforce for the centre.
Touching on the dialogue, the minister said a total of 10 memoranda,containing 26 issues, were received from wood and wood-based, rubber andrubber-based, and food and agro-based industries.
"Among the concerns raised by the industries include shortage of rubberwood, lack of interest in research and development activities in thefurniture industry and market access for processed palm oil products," shesaid.
Rafidah said the wood and wood-based industry continued to registerimprovements in performance last year.
She said the industry has developed and diversified into the production ofhigher value added products such as blockboards, mouldings andfibreboards.
Total exports of wood-based products rose by 24.5 percent to RM14.1billion, due to encouraging demand for panel products (exports whichincreased by 4.8 percent), plywood (37.9 percent), and builders carpentryand joinery (36.4 percent).
Exports of wooden furniture increased by 7.3 percent to RM5.4 billion,contributing 38.7 percent to total export earnings of wood-based products.
Total approved investments in the sector were valued at RM897.5 million,of which domestic investments amounted to RM661.4 million (73.6 percent).
Rafidah said the government, together with the private sector, hasundertaken measures to support the industry, including the introduction ofguidelines for grading rubber wood to enhance the quality of rubber woodfurniture.
She added that the Malaysian Furniture Promotion Council together with theMalaysian Timber Council, would strategise to promote Malaysian wood-basedproducts globally, particularly to markets in West Asia, East Asia, Europeand the United States.
The minister said current efforts to encourage forest plantations forspecific wood species, with incentives introduced in 2003, would provideadequate and sustainable supply of rubber wood, and other tropical woodsfor use by the furniture industry.
"The Wood Industry Skills Development Centre has also been established toprovide skills, training and produce adequate skilled manpower for the theindustry," she added.