#BUDGET 2011* Govt needs focus in training for construction workers, personnel

KUALA LUMPUR: The Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) has called for the government to pay attention to the training of construction sector workers and personnel in its mission to intensify human capital development.

“The government should pay attention to vocational training. It should pay equal attention to construction sector personnel in support of PPP (Public-Private Partnership) initiatives,” MBAM president Kwan Foh Kwai told in a telephone interview.

Kwan is happy with the latest Budget announcements as there were no “adverse surprises” and in tandem with the goals behind public-private initiatives.

Under the PPP initiative, RM12.5 billion in funding will come from the private sector, while the government will allocate RM1 billion from the facilitation fund.

The major projects lined up include the construction of highways such as the Ampang-Cheras-Pandan Elevated Highway, Guthrie-Damansara Expressway, Damansara-Petaling Jaya Highway, Pantai Barat-Banting-Taiping Highway, Sungai Dua-Juru Highway and Paroi-Senawang-KLIA highway.

Other projects in the works are a 300-megawatt combined-cycle gas power plant in Kimanis, Sabah, to meet growing demand; the International Islamic University Malaysia Teaching Hospital in Kuantan, Pahang; the Women and Children’s Hospital; the Integrated Health Research Institute Complex in Kuala Lumpur; and the Academic Medical Centre.

The Academic Medical Centre is a joint venture between Academic Medical Centre Sdn Bhd, Johns Hopkins Medicine International and Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, involving some RM2 billion in investments.

Meanwhile, the government said class F contractors will stand to benefit from the continued implementation of the Projek Penyelenggaraan Aset Awam (PIA/PIAS), which has an allocation of RM500 million.

The project will involve fixing and upgrading public amenities, drains, drainages, small bridges and rewiring as well as building agriculture and kampung roads.

“This budget is the foundation of the 10MP. Efficient and timely implementation is vital,” Kwan said.

He added that there would be a high cost to the private sector, which will serve as the nation’s engine of growth, if there were delays in implementation.

On the potential effect of the government’s plans to scale back on subsidies to RM23.7 billion next year versus RM24.93 billion this year, Kwan foresees no increase in the cost of materials if “all players take the 10MP seriously”.

“There will be no cost increase because we are not operating at capacity yet. On the supply side, we still have capacity. If there is a shortage of building materials, we won’t have a problem because of the strong ringgit. What is important is that we must match the supply with the demand,” he said.

He also lauded the stamp duty exemption of 50% on instruments of transfer of a residential property priced not more than RM350,000, although the figure is not a big sum considering the prices of homes in major cities.

“It will encourage ownership of homes for those in the mid-to-lower income bracket,” Kwan said.
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