Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM) is confident that the construction sector can maintain positive growth if import restrictions on cement and steel bars are lifted.
Association president Patrick Wong said if contractors are free to import cheaper cement and steel bar from abroad, they would have better control on costs and are able to deliver projects in a timely manner.
The construction industry had shrunk continuously for three years since 2004 as the Government scaled back on infrastructure spending to control the country’s budget deficit.
But in the first quarter of this year, the sector registered a significant 4 per cent growth with the rolling out of more projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
"Currently, building material suppliers are taking advantage of the rollout of construction projects by manipulating the supply of controlled items like cement and steel bars," he said.
"We’re meeting with the Economic Planning Unit and the National Economic Action Council to highlight the pressing need for liberalised cement and steel bar markets," he added.
Previously there were complaints of late payment for jobs undertaken by contractors which hampers timely delivery of projects. Asked on the progress of action taken by the Public Works Department, Wong said, "payment by JKR (Jabatan Kerja Raya) is very good now. We get it within two weeks of certification".
Wong was speaking to reporters at a media preview of the International Construction Conference 2007 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. The conference themed "Challenges of Global Mega Projects: Building To The Extreme" is jointly organised by MBAM, Chartered Institute of Building Malaysia (CIOB) and Universiti Technology Mara.
The two-day conference on September 19 and 20 will be sponsored by government agency Construction Industry Development Board and Works Minister Datuk S. Samy Vellu will officiate at the occasion.
Malaysian contractors who have ventured abroad and taken on mega projects include UEM Builders Bhd, PECD Bhd, IJM Corp Bhd, Gamuda Bhd, WCT Engineering Bhd and Ahmad Zaki Resources Bhd.