During challenging times what are Perlis, Penang and Kedah doing?

PERLIS is rushing along with Kedah and Penang to attract investments in this economic crisis.

Perlis State Economic Development Corp (PSEDC) general manager Zulkafli Ahmad said PSEDC was now developing a 161-acre site in Pauh into an industrial zone.

“The Pauh High Technology Park will have first-class power and telecommunications infrastructure. For the first phase, we are developing 77 acres of the 161-acre site.

“So far, we have got hold of Pentamaster Corp Bhd to come over to set up a plant with a built-up area of over 200,000 sq ft on a 10-acre site,” he said.

He added that two more high-tech electronics multinational corporations were interested in coming to Pauh.

Pentamaster, which is involved in making automated equipment and glove-recycling machines, is headquartered in Penang.

Zulkafli said the cost of skilled employment in Perlis was about 30% lower than in Penang.

For example, the wage of an engineer in Perlis is RM2,000 compared with RM3,000 in Penang, while the pay of a technician is RM1,400 compared with RM2,000 in Penang.

He said PSEDC also offered attractive rental rates for buildings that it built and leased.

“The monthly rental rates are RM2 per sq ft compared with RM2.50 per sq ft in Penang, while a 60-year leasehold industrial land is sold between RM5 to RM6.50 per sq ft.

“The rates are negotiable, depending on the size of the investments,” Zulkafli said.

To date, PSEDC has developed over 230 acres at four industrial areas in Perlis.

“There is no more space in these areas. That is why we are developing the Pauh Hi-Tech Industrial Area, the fifth industrial zone,” he said.

There are also tertiary education institutions such as Universiti Malaysia Perlis, Universiti Teknologi Mara, Maktab Rendah Sains Mara and Institut Kemahiran Mara which can produce a variety of skilled workers to support industries in Perlis.

In Kedah, Kulim Technology Park Corp Sdn Bhd, which is wholly-owned by Kedah State Development Corp, also offers attractive rates for the lease of its industrial land, water usage and land assessment fee.

In Kulim Hi-Tech Park (KHTP), 60-year leasehold industrial land are sold at about RM18 per sq ft compared with about RM30 per sq ft in Bayan Lepas, Penang.

“The rates are negotiable, depending on the size. For facilities in the KHTP Business Centre, rates for the administrative, technology and IT centres are from 80 sen to RM1.40 per sq ft.

“These facilities can be used as research and development laboratories or incubators,” said Kulim Technology Park Corp (KTPC) president Muhamad Sobri Osman.

KTPC offers attractive incentives to woo investors to move to KHTP.

“We encourage technopreneurs in electrical and electronics as well as information technology (IT) industries to take up our incubators in KHTP with offers of start-up waivers on rentals for a pre-determined period.

“Workers in the tenant companies will also be given special discounts on properties and resort memberships based on certain mutually-agreed criteria,” Muhamad said.

Similar properties equipped with IT facilities such as the Suntech Tower in Bayan Baru, Penang, for example, are rented out for about RM3 per sq ft.

“The wages in KHTP are similar to those offered in Penang. But over here, the cost of living is lower, thus enabling a worker to have a higher disposable income.

“In Kulim, a worker needs to pay around RM125,000 for a double-storey house while in Penang, he needs to pay at least RM350,000 for a similar property,” he said.

In Penang, howeverinvestPenang general manager Wan Zailena Noordin said the state competed by providing services to investors.

“All incentives are from the Federal Government. Penang does not offer additional incentives.

“We work closely with Malaysia Industrial Development Authority (Mida) to offer the incentives, provide solutions and guide investors through the various processes to obtain approvals.

“If an investor wants to lease a building, we will introduce him to third parties so that he can negotiate the best rental rates,” she said.

Zailena said Mida also offered customised incentives for businesses.

“Companies can negotiate with Mida directly for these customised incentives, which are tailored according to the size of their investments.”

She said the bulk of the small and medium industries that supply to multinational corporations and other large companies were located in Penang.

“The livebility of Penang also attracts students to study and work in the state, which enables it to serve as a hub for a variety of skilled labour.

“This is Penang’s competitive edge. If your company is in Penang, then you are close to suppliers and skilled human resources,” she added.

GUH Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Kenneth H’ng said Penang remained an attractive investment location despite the higher labour costs.

H’ng said Penang was a hub for raw material suppliers and small and medium-sized industries (SMIs).

“If an entrepreneur sets up his business in another state, he would still have to pay for the transportation costs of raw materials and support services to be sent over to him.

“These charges alone would offset whatever savings he would make from the lower cost of labour available in the other state,” he said.

Penang’s attraction as an investment haven depended on the nature of an investor’s business, he added.

“If the business requires a higher set of skills and regular support from SMIs, then Penang is still the place to invest,” H’ng reckoned. For latest Bursa Malaysia indices, charts and other information click here

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