Wednesday, August 5, 2009

ECER Special Zone Sees RM90 bln Investments, 220,000 New Jobs - Najib

PERDANA Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Razak bersama Menteri Besar Kelantan, Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat memegang anak kambing sambil diperhatikan Menteri Besar Terengganu, Datuk Ahmad Said pada Majlis Perasmian Zon Ekonomi Khas ECER dan Agropolitan Pekan di Runchang, Pahang, semalam. - Foto Azmaidi Abidin.

PEKAN, Aug 4 (Bernama) -- The East Coast Economic Region Special Economic Zone (ECER SEZ) launched by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Tuesday, is expected to attract RM90 billion in direct domestic and international investments by 2020.

The first integrated special zone in Malaysia from Kertih in Terengganu to Pekan in Pahang was also expected to create more than 220,000 new job opportunities, said the prime minister.

He said special incentives would be introduced to draw investments and make economic activities in certain areas more attractive.

"Projects outside the SEZ area will continue. Because the (ECER) area is very wide, it needs a focal location," he told reporters after launching ECER SEZ and the ECER agropolitan project in Runchang here.

He said four free zones would be established in ECER SEZ to promote and focus on the chains between industrial clusters that would give a significant impact on the ECER economy -- High Value Manufacturing, Agro-based Industry; Gas and Petrochemical; Tourism/Real Estate; Knowledge/Education and ICT as well as Logistics.

"For the 2007 period until now, foreign and local investments totalling RM24 billion would have been expected from the private sector to develop projects in ECER in the tourism, manufacturing, petrochemical and agricultural clusters," he said.

Najib said that although the zone physically covers only six percent of the total ECER area, its economic impact was very big including in its capacity to contribute 50 percent of the employment opportunities compared to ECER as a whole and 80 percent of the economic products for the whole of ECER.

He said the government would continue to be committed to the ECER development until the 11th Malaysia Plan and until 2020 through 189 projects worth RM112 billion that would be implemented in stages.

In this regard, he said, the Kuantan Port would also be upgraded and expanded so that it would be capable of handling more than 30 million metric tonnes of cargo annually by 2020 compared to 16.8 million metric tonnes presently.

This would ensure the port was able to play its roles as a main port in the East Coast and a gateway for the Asia Pacific market.

To stimulate ECER SEZ's rapid development, Najib said, the government would provide several fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to attract investment and make it competitive.

"If there are requests for additional incentives, we will consider it based on the merits of a particular case," he said.

On the ECER Agropolitan project, he said, it was an integrated development whose main objective was to eradicate hardcore poverty by end of 2010 through the involvement of the poor in the plantation and non-plantation sectors.

"I am interested in Agropolitan because besides planting oil palm, they can also breed sheep. If one works for half a day, one can get RM500 monthly and if one works the whole day, one can get RM1,000 monthly.

"This will bring them out of the poverty line," he said.

He added that those healthy would be offered such jobs while the old or sick would be given a welfare scheme.

The first 50 participants had been selected to carry out Agropolitan project activities that could accomodate up to 1,500 people, he said.

--BERNAMA

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