3 -pronged agenda

Hasni says Johor hopes to expand on the potential of the agriculture sector which generates RM16.25bil in income.

ISKANDAR PUTERI: The state government has outlined three main agendas that are expected to be the catalyst to help in the state’s economic recovery and resilience in the future, post Covid-19.

Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad said they are the Johor Food Security Agenda, Johor Digital Agenda and the formation of the Johor Economic, Trade and Cultural Office (Jetco) in Singapore.

He said presently there were about 160,000 entrepreneurs involved in the agriculture sector and food business in the state.

“The agriculture sector now generates some RM16.25bil in income. Our exports for agriculture products to Singapore alone stands at RM8.17bil annually.

“Imagine if we can expand on the potential of this sector by consolidating, fine-tuning and enhancing the value of this sector, ” he said during his maiden budget speech at the Johor state assembly here yesterday.

Currently, Johor is the biggest producer of several agriculture products in Malaysia, including chicken meat with 284 million birds and 1.6 million tonnes of fruits.

Hasni said to tap and enhance the potential of the sector, the state government would form a food security council to help formulate plans and oversee the implementation of projects.

“We will also announce incentives for specific land utilised for food production. We will work with the private sector and investors to improve the commercial value of food products and open up more markets for made-in-Johor food items, ” he added.

Hasni said western countries such as the Netherlands were reliant on the agriculture and food sector that utilised modern technology and commercial marketing.

On the Johor Digital Agenda, Hasni said the state government planned to make Medini and Educity in Iskandar Puteri its digital hub.

”We will ensure the necessary infrastructure to stimulate the digital economy will be built here including giving incentives to industry players, ” he added.

Hasni said the state hoped to form a digital council to come up with plans and direction for future planning in the field.

“We will also form a company known as Digital Johor Corporation that will act as our delivery unit and coordinator for our agenda, ” he said, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic has revolutionised the way everyone worked, communicated, went to school and purchased daily items.

On the formation of Jetco, Hasni said it would go all out to promote investment in the state.

“We should use this opportunity to convince industry players and the Singapore business community to operate in Johor, ” he said, adding that other agencies such as Invest Johor should work with Jetco in Singapore to get more investors from China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea into the state. (See also page 3).

In his two-hour-long Johor Budget 2021 speech titled Berdaya Tahan Demi Kemakmuran, Hasni said the state would face a deficit budget of RM248.14mil next year.

“This is based on our income projections of RM1.60bil while our spending is expected to stand at about RM1.85bil, ” he said.

However, Hasni expressed confidence that the state would be able to weather the present unprecedented circumstances and bounce back with economic growth of between 6.6% and 7.6% in 2021.

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