Ismail: Challenging times require Irda to work harder and make extra efforts

  • Metro News
  • Saturday, 11 Jul 2020

JOHOR BARU: It will be a challenging time for Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) as the economic growth corridor enters its last phase of development.

Irda chief executive Datuk Ismail Ibrahim (pic) said the Covid-19 global pandemic had brought about slower economic growth.

“It is becoming more challenging to attract new investments, ’’ he said.

Ismail said the situation required Irda to work even harder and it was making extra efforts to continue attracting investors to Iskandar Malaysia.

He said although the country’s first economic growth corridor was making significant progress and moving in the right direction, they could not afford to be complacent.

“We have experienced economic uncertainties throughout the course of our developments over the years but the pandemic is the most challenging for us, ’’ said Ismail.

Launched on Nov 4,2006, Iskandar spans 2,217sq km in the southern-most part of Johor. It is three times bigger than Singapore and two times the size of Hong Kong.

Iskandar is divided into five flagship development zones – JB City Centre, Iskandar Puteri, Eastern Gate Development Zone, Western Gate Development Zone and Senai-Kulai.

Irda is the regulatory authority mandated to plan, promote and facilitate the development of Iskandar into a strong and sustainable metropolis of international standing by 2025.

“The main challenge for us in Iskandar is to work within an economic situation which is interchangeable and to keep up with the subtle changes in the market trend worldwide in various sectors, ’’ said Ismail

He said Irda has taken several steps to mitigate possible setbacks by diversifying the economic portfolios and having a good mix to reduce too much dependency on one economic segment post Covid-19.

Since its inception 14 years ago, Iskandar has recorded a total cumulative committed investment of RM316.09bil from various sectors as of December 2019.

Of the total, RM195.98bil or 62% are domestic investments while foreign investments stand at RM120.11bil or 38%.

The manufacturing sector recorded the highest investment figure from the nine promoted sectors at RM75.10bil, followed by logistics (RM11.06bil), tourism (RM8.59bil), healthcare (RM4.41bil), finance (RM3.45bil), education (RM3.29bil) and creative RM1.45bil.

Other sectors were mixed development at RM101.53bil, residential properties (RM54.14bil), industrial properties (RM19.84bil), government spending on infrastructure (RM17.53bil), utilities (RM12.97bil) and emerging technologies at RM2.74bil.

For the period under review, China, Singapore, US, Japan and the Netherlands were the top five countries with the highest investments in Iskandar.

“We are confident we can capture the interest of investors post-Covid-19 and that we will reach the RM383bil target in 2025.

“We have carefully assessed and evaluated our steps in moving forward and the RM70bil in the next four years is achievable under the new normal due to Covid-19, ’’ he said.

Ismail said it was essential in the current environment that Irda remains as a catalytic platform to attract investors and continue to seek support from domestic and foreign investors to fuel Iskandar’s growth.

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