The Federation of Malaysia Freight Forwarders wants the registration of freight forwarders be made mandatory to weed out fly-by-night operators
THE Federation of Malaysia Freight Forwarders (FMFF) has proposed that the Transport Ministry control the number of players in the market and make the registration of freight forwarders mandatory in order to weed out fly-by-night operators.
Selangor Freight Forwarders & Logistics Association (SFFLA) vice-president Chan Kong Yew said the freight forwarding industry is currently not regulated by any government body.
"The government should recognise the linkage between regulation, accreditation regimes, industry performances and quality standards," he told Business Times in an interview.
"On our part, FMFF is developing a framework where local freight forwarders can be regulated and benchmarked against international standards in terms of paid-up capital, operational capability, financial strength, ethical conduct, professional capacity and experience," he added.
FMFF also plans to upgrade the professionalism of the logistics industry through education and training.
"We recognise the importance of training and upgrading the skills of our members and employees, and have divided them into three focus groups," said FMFF president Alvin Chua Seng Wah.
Chua is also the newly-appointed president of SFFLA, following the demise of former president Abel Tan Ah Beng last month.
"The first group will comprise operational staff, who will undergo practical and vocational training, while the second group will focus on enhancing the knowledge of clerical and supervisory employees through a series of short courses.
"The third group will encompass executive staff, who can participate in the federation's foundation and certificate courses," he said.
In this regard, FMFF is working closely with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (Fiata) in developing a series of logistics courses from foundation level to certificate, and eventually leading to a diploma in accordance with Fiata's syllabus, which is recognised by the world logistics industry.
"We are planning to introduce the diploma programme in Multimodal Transport Operation by the end of this year," Chua said, adding that FMFF is in discussions with Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman to enter into a collaboration to offer the diploma course.
In another development, FMFF wants the government to lower the Bumiputera equity requirement for locally-registered licensed Customs brokers to 30 per cent from the current 51 per cent, to help them compete on a level playing field against their foreign counterparts.
"In 1976, the Customs Authority had imposed a requirement of 51 per cent Bumiputera equity share for all new and renew Customs brokerage licence. As a result, there is now a big percentage of Bumiputera portion that are normally decorative rather than actual contribution," said SFFLA deputy president Yeoh Kean Jin.
It is understood that the current 51 per cent Bumiputera equity requirement has prevented many non-Bumiputera Customs brokers from reinvesting their profits into growing their company over concerns that they do not have control over the company's operations.
To reduce their risk, the non-Bumiputera Customs brokers have spread their investments among many different companies.
"As the Customs brokers start to expand and diversify their businesses to offer integrated logistics services like warehousing and distribution, transportation, and value added services, they would normally form new companies and have different partners," said Yeoh.
This has resulted in many of them not being eligible for the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Mida) incentive for integrated logistics services (ILS), which requires the company or the group of companies to have the same shareholding structure.
"This problem is reflected in the number of local freight forwarders who have qualified for the ILS incentive. Of the 12,000-odd freight forwarders in the country, only 21 have qualified so far.
"As such, we call on the government to liberalise the Bumiputera equity requirement in the Customs brokerage business so that we can consolidate all our companies into one integrated logistics service provider and compete with the likes of Nippon Express, Geologistics and BAX Global," said Yeoh.
"This is also in line with the full liberalisation of freight services in Asean by 2010," he added.