Irda urged to shift into overdrive

Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) is urged to play a more active role in drawing investors.

Bekok assemblyman S. Ramakrishnan, in making the call, said Johor was in urgent need of direct investment.

“Six extended lockdowns in the past 18 months have badly affected the state.

“Growth is expected to be only 3% from the targeted 5% this year.

“In this difficult time, agencies such as Irda must be on overdrive,” he said during the Johor state assembly sitting at Bangunan Sultan Ismail in Kota Iskandar.

Ramakrishnan said the closure of the Malaysia-Singapore border had not only affected the movement of 300,000 Malaysian workers to the island republic but also drastically slowed down economic activities in Johor.

“Johor’s economy is closely linked to Singapore.

“Tourism, hotels, transport, retail, restaurants, salons and many other sectors have all been significantly affected by the border closure,” he said.

Ramakrishnan also questioned Irda’s success in bringing in new foreign investments, including vaccine manufacturers into Johor.

“Since the Covid-19 pandemic started in March last year, many multinational manufacturers had left China for other investment destinations.

“BioNTech, which developed the Covid-19 vaccine along with Pfizer, and French pharmaceutical company Sanofi had said that they were keen to set up manufacturing plants in South-East Asia,

“Did Irda make any attempt to bring these vaccine manufacturers to Johor?” he asked.

Ramakrishnan said Irda should also be playing a bigger role in vaccinating people in the state.

“Johor needs a speedy vaccination programme for all its residents, including foreign workers with or without permits.

“Irda should be in the driver’s seat in instituting vaccine inoculation programmes, especially for high-risk groups such as factory workers,” he noted.

He added that other government agencies and government-linked companies too must play a proactive role in supporting small and medium enterprises in the state as well as rejuvenating the economy.

Ramakrishnan welcomed Irda’s chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim’s announcement that investment projects worth RM7.33bil were implemented in Iskandar Malaysia in the first four months of 2021.

“In September 2020, Irda also announced that a cumulative investment of RM16bil was made in the first six months and an investment of RM16.75bil was committed in the first half of 2019.

“Johor needs such large-scale investments to shore up its economy and create job opportunities,” he stressed.

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