Sabah traders have voiced concerns over the government’s directive to halt the transshipment of rice, especially involving traders in Sandakan.
In a dialogue with Elopura assemblyperson, Calvin Chong and Kota Kinabalu MP, Chan Foong Hin here today, traders in Sandakan said the Agriculture Ministry’s directive, effective from Jan 1, would slow down business activities in the district and cost the livelihoods of those involved in the trading industry.
Chan said the directive was only for three months to allow the ministry to study a mechanism to curb rice smuggling in the country.
“Basically, the Agricultural Ministry needs time to carry out a study. So, the ministry has delayed transshipment activities nationwide.
“But we will follow up on the matter and ensure that business resumes after March based on new regulations by the Agricultural Ministry,” he told reporters after the dialogue.
Chong also said he would write to Sabah Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal on allowing barter trading in Sandakan to be handled by local traders as they are familiar with the business.
Sandakan traders said they were disappointed that the barter trade licences issued by the state government had been mostly taken up by traders from outside Sandakan.
There are currently 35 barter traders in Sandakan.
The cross-border trading was stopped in April 2016 due to security reasons but resumed this month.