KUALA LUMPUR: The Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) is seeking higher allocation of funds from the Government in the upcoming Budget 2012, compared with 2011.
For 2011, the Government had allocated RM945mil to the economic growth corridor in Johor.
Irda chief executive officer Ismail Ibrahim said the higher allocation was needed as Iskandar Malaysia entered its second phase of development (2011 to 2015), where the focus would be on strengthening and generating growth.
He said Iskandar Malaysia was at a critical stage where “we need to have all the necessary infrastructure in place to ensure that the region continues to be attractive for investors.”
According to Ismail, the allocation of funds for 2012 is presently being discussed with the Government's Economic Planning Unit. Still, Ismail pointed out that Irda was looking at more public private partnerships (PPPs) or private finance initiatives (PFIs) to reduce the burden on the Government in the provision of funds for infrastructure development.
“Although the amount of requested allocation of government funds is higher than 2011, the actual amount spent may be less due to PPP initiatives. We always encourage the private sector to come forward with ideas on how to participate in the delivery of public infrastucture projects in Iskandar Malaysia. We are more than happy to listen to them,” he said in a recent interview with StarBiz.
As at March 31 this year, Iskandar Malaysia has recorded a total cumulative investment of RM73.24bil since its launch in November 2006.
Of this, 59% are from local investments with the remainder foreign.
“There is a slow shift from what was earlier significant amounts of foreign investment. This is a healthy devleopment as it is a sign of confidence by locals in Iskandar Malaysia.”
Ismail said Irda had already exceeded its original target of securing RM60bil in investments by December 2011.
He added that Iskandar Malaysia aimed to attract RM73bil (or RM14.6bil per year) in committed investments from 2011 till the end of 2015.
“This is because we want to achieve an economic growth rate of 8% per annum in Iskandar Malaysia over the next five years, in order to be a strong and sustainable metropolis of international standing by 2025.”
He said Irda would continue to focus on investments from the Middle East region (Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Oman and Kuwait) as well as Singapore, China and India.
“The sectors we are focusing on now are tourism, healthcare, education and creative. However, we also anticipate that the oleochemicals and logisitics sectors will begin to take shape in the near future.”
Ismail was not particularly concerned about the region seeing a population growth of only between 100,000 and 150,000 people (from 1.4 million in 2005).
Iskandar Malaysia aims to have a population of 3 million people by 2025.
“We anticipate the population increase to be a lot more over the coming years either by natural growth or incoming migration through the growth of businesses and employment creation.”
According to Ismail, Irda's efforts had seen the creation of 10,000 jobs per annum based on data from existing and new businesses to be set up.
On the proposed Rapid Transit System (RTS) link between Johor Baru and Singapore, Ismail said there was an ongoing study, which would take another four or five months to complete.
He said the RTS link was likely to be between Johor Baru Sentral and a site near Republic Polytechnic on Singapore's Thomson Line, which is due to start running by 2018.
“We are keen to have an underground or tunnel link.”
Ismail also said 2011/2012 will be the tipping point for Iskandar Malaysia, with the first delivery of catalyst projects.
“For example, part of Educity in Nusajaya will commence operations. The Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia will receive its first three batches of students in September this year. The Legoland theme park in Nusajaya, due to open in the third quarter of 2012, is expected to receive 1.5 million visitors a year.”
Johor Premium Outlets in Genting Indahpura is due to open on Nov 11 and is expected to draw 4 million tourists and shoppers a year.
Ismail said Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios, due to be completed in 2013, would create some 8,000 jobs in the creative and entertainment industries.
“These catalyst projects, including others, will have an impact on the economic growth of the region.”
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