Revamp a must for Iskandar Malaysia to stay relevant, says expert

  • Metro News
  • Saturday, 21 Sep 2019

Iskandar Regional Development Authority corporate headquarters in Danga Bay, Johor Baru.

JOHOR BARU: Iskandar Malaysia needs to reinvent and revamp itself to remain relevant in view of the challenges and uncertainties in the global economic landscape.

KGV International Property Consultants (M) Sdn Bhd director Samuel Tan Wee Cheng said the country’s first economic growth corridor had come a long way since its inception about 13 years ago.

“Iskandar Malaysia is progressing well but it needs to push itself further as the economic region is entering the last lap of development, ’’ he said.

He assured the economic region was on track to achieve the targeted RM383bil cumulative committed investments by 2025, as outlined under its Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP2006-2025).

Launched on Nov 4,2006, Iskandar Malaysia, located in the southernmost part of Johor, is spread over 2,217 sq km and three times bigger than Singapore or two times the size of Hong Kong.

In February this year, the Federal Government doubled the size to 4,729 sq km, with new areas to include parts of Kluang in central Johor, Kota Tinggi in the east and Pontian in the west as part of Greater Iskandar Malaysia.

“Iskandar Malaysia needs a shot in the arm to further boost development since its size has doubled and also to offset the slowdown from catalytic projects, ’’ said Tan.

He said the Government should seriously consider allocating budget to Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) for infrastructure projects, especially for the construction of new highways under Budget 2020 or the 12th Malaysia Plan.

He opined opening new highways to less accessible areas would bring economic spillover and growth opportunities to less developed areas within the region.

Irda chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said Iskandar Malaysia continued to attract strong interest among local and foreign investors as well as visitors since its inception.

“We do see an upward trend in investment received by Irda in the last five years (2014 to 2018), with an average yearly committed investment of RM30bil, ’’ he said.

Ismail highlighted from 2006 until March 2019, Iskandar Malaysia received RM293bil in cumulative committed investment, of which 57% or RM166bil had been realised, with 55% or RM91bil from domestic investors and 45% or RM75bil from foreign investors.He added that from the nine promoted sectors, four sectors, namely logistics, tourism, healthcare and education, had shown significant growth.

Ismail said it was because of the region’s ability to provide world-class infrastructure, excellent connectivity, cost competitiveness and conducive business environment.

He said some 772,130 jobs had been created in Iskandar Malaysia from 2006 until December last year, where 30% were skilled jobs.

“As an economic region, we are affected by the global economy and if need be, we will review the investment strategies from time to time to adapt accordingly, ” he added.

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