Three-pronged strategy to attract local, foreign investors

Ismail: All stakeholders need to work together to continue making Iskandar Malaysia attractive to investors.

ISKANDAR Regional Development Authority (Irda) is looking at new strategies to attract domestic and foreign investors during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Its chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said the pandemic came with its own challenges and all stakeholders had to adapt to the new normal.

“All of us need to work together to continue making Iskandar Malaysia attractive to investors regardless of the economic situation,” he said in an interview.

Ismail said the global economic outlook was not promising and likely to impact growth in most countries worldwide, including Malaysia.

The region, he said, was ready to adopt the new normal through three phases of development — by building on its new expansion area, harnessing big data and focusing on new promoted sectors such as modern farming.

“We are also focusing on rebuilding the local economy through local employment and entrepreneurship,” added Ismail.

Under the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP2006-2025), Ismail said Phase I was about planning and building the foundation, while Phase II was about strengthening and generating growth.

Phase III — which is about sustaining and innovating — would prove to be the toughest yet most rewarding phase, he said.

Ismail added that the pandemic allowed Irda to reassess and re-evaluate its strategies in achieving the investment target despite some readjustments and enhancements during and after Covid-19.

Iskandar Malaysia has attracted RM341.4bil in cumulative committed investments since 2006, with 61% of the amount having been implemented.

The 61% amounting to RM209.9bil, he said, was led by the manufacturing sector, followed by logistics, tourism, creative services and healthcare services.

Ismail said for the financial year 2020 (FY2020), the region recorded RM24bil investment. This amount is below the average RM30bil that it has registered for the past few years.

“This year, we are projecting an even lower target of RM17bil as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to plague the world,’’ he said.

However, Ismail said there were already some improvements around the world such as increased vaccination and travel bubbles.

“On that note, we are confident that we will continue to capture the interest of investors to reach the RM383bil target in 2025,” he said.

Ismail added that hitting over RM40bil, in the next four years, was achievable despite the changes and new norm as a result of the pandemic.

On a larger scale, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said foreign investors, including Fortune 500 companies, continued to show interest in investing in Malaysia.

The government has announced several tax incentives under the National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) to boost the investment activities, including a 10 to 15-year tax exemption for new foreign direct investments in the manufacturing sector with capital investments of RM300mil or more.

“These will definitely benefit Iskandar Malaysia,” said Ismail.

Iskandar Malaysia is the country’s first economic growth corridor launched on Nov 4, 2006, spanning 2,217sq km, three times bigger than Singapore.

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

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