MIRI: Sarawak holds the economic “trump card” after having attained the number one spot among all the states in the country in terms of foreign direct investments for the first nine months of this year, luring a total of RM7.3bil into the state.
The “trump card” is in the form of lower electricity rates in Sarawak for the industrial sector that are expected to be lower than any other states, says Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan.
Sagan, who is Baram MP, said yesterday that next year would be a tough year for the economy, but Sarawak was expected to fight for the number one spot again in luring foreign investors, ahead of Selangor.
“This year, from January to September, the official figures from my ministry and from Mida (Malaysian Industrial Development Authority) show that Sarawak is the number one state in foreign investments, with RM7.3bil invested into the electrical, electronics and solar energy sectors.
“Next year, we foresee a very challenging year for the economy because of several global developments, such as the current economic problems in Europe. However, we expect to see Sarawak maintaining a positive trend of luring investments because next year, the Bakun Dam will channel more electricity onstream (into the Sarawak main grid).
“With this increased electricity supply for Sarawak, we expect to see lower electricity rates for the industrial sectors in this state as compared to other states.
“Sarawak also has sufficient trained manpower, cheap land and basic infrastructure required.
“All these will see Sarawak having an advantage in luring even more foreign investors next year,” he told a press conference after opening the Forum Solidarity exhibition organised by the Federation of Orang Ulu Sarawak, Malaysia, here yesterday.
Asked if next year Sarawak would be able to equal or exceed the RM7.3bil it attracted during the first nine months of this year, Sagan said it would be a tough task.
However, he was confident that enough strategies have been put in place to achieve the aim.
He said the ministry’s main concern now was how to develop a better vendor system in Sarawak to enable smaller scale entrepreneurs to tap the spin-offs from the massive investments coming into the state, especially in the SCORE (Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy) belt.
On the developments in the Orang Ulu communities, Sagan said the minority ethnic groups like the Saban, Bisaya, Ukit, Lun Bawang and Penan must come together with the other Orang Ulu groups to speak as one voice.
An umbrella association would make it easier for them to highlight their socio-economic needs and to catch up with the other races in the state and country, he said.
The Forum Solidarity exhibition is being held in conjunction with the Orang Ulu Solidarity gathering, organised by nine minority ethnic communities under the federation, here.
Sagan also contributed RM5,000 in minor rural project grants to each of the nine ethnic associations.