LABUAN: Broad-ranging initiatives are to be implemented to enhance the attractiveness of Labuan while ensuring that the integrity of the island as a reputable international offshore financial centre (IOFC) is maintained.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the Government would take whatever measures necessary to ensure Labuan did not become a centre for money laundering or for terrorists to funnel their money.
“The reputation of Labuan as an IOFC must never be compromised by even suggestions of illegal activities taking place, let alone those activities taking place themselves,” he said after chairing the first National Economic Action Council (NEAC) executive committee meeting outside of Kuala Lumpur here yesterday.
Among the initiatives decided at the meeting were improving transportation, infrastructure and providing more job opportunities, including reviving Sabah Shipyard Sdn Bhd.
These were among the measures that would be taken as soon as possible, he said.
He also said the Government would adopt an open-sky policy, enabling all airlines to use the Labuan airport and the runway would be expanded to accommodate Boeing 747 aircraft.
“We hope Transport Minister Datuk Chan Kong Choy will look into the open-sky decision as soon as possible,” Abdullah said, adding that work on the runway extension would be implemented in about two months.
He told reporters after a one-day visit here that the Government would also allow more ferry services to operate between Sabah and Labuan. Currently only one company was allowed to operate such service.
On the revival of the ailing Sabah Shipyard, Abdullah said the Government would appoint a company to turn around the shipbuilding firm that was previously one of the single largest employers here.
He said tourism also spelt better opportunities for Labuan due its proximity to Japan, Taiwan and China.
“Silver hair programmes to attract long-term senior citizens from Japan that have been successful elsewhere could also work in Labuan,” he added.
Earlier, Abdullah said the Government was aware of power and water supply problems on the island and would ensure these problems would be tackled speedily.
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