22 February, PUTRAJAYA – Iskandar Malaysia is confident that the region’s inflow of investments from domestic and foreign investors will continue to grow from this year onward and this will enhance the whole eco-system in Iskandar Malaysia as the spill-over effects will have a higher impact on the region’s economy and the Rakyat.
“The progress Iskandar Malaysia has steadily charted since 2006 has been truly spectacular and will be key in helping Malaysia to reclaim its leadership as the ‘Asian Tiger’. As the agency driving the development of Iskandar Malaysia, I remain optimistic on the role and responsibilities of IRDA in supporting the development of the State of Johor and the nation’s agendas,” said YAB Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed, who is also Iskandar Regional Development Authority’s (IRDA) co-chairman, during IRDA’s 24th Members of Authority (MoA) meeting yesterday.
Co-chairing the MoA meeting, YAB Dato’ Osman Sapian, Menteri Besar of Johor concurred, “Iskandar Malaysia strong and stable growth will boost and complement the development of Johor and thus strengthening Johor’s aspiration to become a high-performance state.”
Acknowledging the positive and impactful results that Iskandar Malaysia has achieved, The MoA has approved a proposal to extend the area of the Iskandar Development region bringing the total area from 2217 km square to 4749 km square. They include parts of the districts of Kota Tinggi, Kluang and Pontian.
According to Datuk Ismail Ibrahim, Chief Executive of IRDA, the MoA believes that with the larger area of coverage, Iskandar Malaysia should be able to offer more land for development at affordable cost, and at the same time bringing modern agriculture as one of its new promoted sectors.
In terms of economic growth, Iskandar Malaysia recorded committed investments of RM32.23 billion in 2018, where RM22.03 billion represent investments that have been realized. This contributed to the total cumulative committed investment of RM285.34 billion from 2006 to 31 Dec 2018.
To date, local investors had contributed RM194.81 billion (62%) to the total cumulative committed investments while the balance RM90.51 billion (38%) were contributed by foreign investors. The top five countries with the highest cumulative committed investments into Iskandar Malaysia from 2006 to December 2018 are China, Singapore, USA, Japan and Spain.
From 2006 until 2018, the Services Sector namely Tourism, Education, Finance, Healthcare, Creative and Logistics recorded a total of RM28.9 billion which includes Emerging Technology.
The MoA also supported Iskandar Malaysia’s strong global supply linkages by becoming the home for the first ASEAN Industrial Hub, which supports the nation’s aspiration for ASEAN integration.
“With the economic growth pacing positively, social inclusivity and environment sustainability will also continue to be the thrusts for Iskandar Malaysia as the Government intensifies efforts to steer the national economy towards the high-income sphere,” according to Datuk Ismail.
In light of the above, The MoA also dealt with talent development and employment matters in Iskandar Malaysia and took note that since its inception, Iskandar Malaysia has created some 740,000 employment opportunities, of which 15% are skilled positions.
However, while more investments are coming in, bringing in more jobs and business opportunities, there are vacancies that are not filled by Malaysians, especially by the local youth. As such, Iskandar Malaysia will need to put more effort in enticing and attracting local youth to take the opportunity to enter into the job market.
Another job opportunity that Iskandar Malaysia can offer to the youth is in the field of agriculture, especially with the approval of the region’s new extended land area. This should be allocated for agriculture industry and not only for local consumption, but also for export purposes.
This is where Iskandar Malaysia aligns with the nation’s vision of narrowing the income gap as IRDA has already envisioned an inclusive Iskandar Malaysia through equitability, increased purchasing power, productivity and taking into consideration the increase in household income as one of the indicators to measure economic prosperity.
On the topic of household income, one of the ways to help the Rakyat is to have an affordable and integrated public transportation system to achieve sustainable development in Iskandar Malaysia. The MoA appreciates IRDA’s initiative to build the Iskandar Malaysia Bus Rapid Transit (IMBRT) system where comfort, safety and affordability will go a long way in ensuring that 90 percent of the population in Iskandar Malaysia have access and benefit from it.
“Being able to effectively balance economic development with social inclusiveness and environmental sustainability will help the region to offer a balanced lifestyle to its residents and visitors alike and cementing its vision in becoming a ‘Strong and Sustainable Metropolis of International Standing. This is where Iskandar Malaysia plays its part in boosting Malaysia’s effort to claim itself as the ‘Asian Tiger’ again,” said Datuk Ismail.