Sarawak needs federal funds for R&D into hydrogen fuel

Awang Tengah (second from left) at the dialogue yesterday. – Facebook photo.

SARAWAK plans to step up research and development (R&D) into the cleaner hydrogen fuel and hopes the Federal government could allocate funds for the purpose, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said.

“Sarawak is pioneering into the development of hydrogen fuel for vehicles as part of our effort to develop Green Economy.

“Thus, we would also like to suggest to the federal government to give tax exemption for vehicles using hydrogen fuel to encourage the adoption of this clean fuel,” he said at the Industry Engagement Session with the Minister of Finance Senator Tengku Dato Sri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz yesterday.

He also hoped that the federal government would help improve the infrastructure here, including deep sea ports so that they would remain competitive, The Borneo Post reported.

The state also hoped to be a regional hub for the petrochemical industry to create more value for its natural resources, he added.

Though the oil and gas industry has contributed significantly to the economic growth of Sarawak, it however has not gone very far in terms of downstream activities. It only has urea and Shell Middle Distillate Synthesis (SMDS) plants, apart from the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) complex in Tanjung Kidurong.

“Sarawakians want to have greater participation in the oil and gas resources, both in upstream and downstream activities.

“Despite the competitive electricity and water tariffs as well as affordable land rates, there are not enough things here to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

“We need to improve our infrastructure to be more competitive. The export and import of goods via Port Klang incur additional logistic costs.

“This, coupled with poor road network, also adds to high haulage cost, which will then be passed on to consumers.”

As such, he hoped the federal government would provide more funding to improve the infrastructure and also provide more favourable tax incentives to offset the high logistic costs.

Awang Tengah, who is also Minister of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development said Sarawak also needed more federal funding to develop more industrial parks and business premises to cater for the needs of investors, particularly the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and also for marine engineering park.

“SMEs in Sarawak are badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. While the federal government has rolled out various financial assistance to the SMEs, many SMEs in Sarawak have lost out to their urban counterparts in Peninsular Malaysia who have better access to information and the digital platforms. We appreciate it if Yang Berhormat (Zafrul) can consider allocating a certain percentage of federal financial assistance for Sarawak SMEs.”

Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof and state secretary Datu Jaul Samion were among those present at the event.

The Budget 2021 dialogue was held after the second joint committee meeting between the federal government, state government and Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas).

CLS

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