As the Chief Executive Officer of the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC), I am happy to provide an outline of the progress in the East Coast Economic Region (ECER).
The launch of the East Coast Economic Region Special Economic Zone (ECER SEZ) and the Pekan Agropolitan Project, is a day of special pride to all who have been involved with the ECER from the inception of the ECER Master Plan in October 2007. The ECER SEZ will act as the catalyst for concentrated decentralisation of economic activities within the framework of national development. At the same time, all ECER projects throughout the Region will proceed as scheduled.
The ECER SEZ is a concentration of high-impact projects within an integrated development zone located at the nucleus of the ECER – a 25km by 140km strip from Kertih to Pekan. Its economy will move from labour-intensive industries to high- technology, knowledge-based activities and the service sector, and will create 50% of all jobs as well as 80% of the economic output of the ECER. It will transform the ECER into an economic powerhouse within a heritage environment.
Overall, the ECER has made inroads in its ongoing goal of transforming the east coast states into a developed Region by 2020. A total of 189 projects worth an estimated value of RM112 billion have been identified for implementation in the Region up to 2020. Of these, a total of 54 high-impact projects have commenced.
These projects include the launch of the Centres of Excellence to foster industry-academia collaborations, the development of the Kenaf industry, Kertih Polymer Park, Lanchang Permanent Food Production Park and Modern Farm, Gambang and Pasir Mas Halal Park, Pekan-Peramu Automotive Industrial Park, Kuantan Port City, Kuala Berang Goat Research & Innovation Centre, Goat Multiplier Farm in Kuala Berang, Goat Commercial Farm in Telaga Papan, Muadzam Shah Cattle Research & Innovation Centre, upgrading of the Central Spine Road, Small Office Home Office (SOHO) Programme, Mersing-Sedili Road, Bentong Mixed Industrial Park, and the Herbal & Biotechnology Park.
Various social development programmes have also been initiated, to help the local community improve their income levels and standard of living as well as accelerate rural economic growth.
Among these, the Agropolitan Project, designed to eradicate hardcore poverty through various integrated agricultural and agro-based development projects, was initiated in North Kelantan, South Kelantan, Besut-Setiu, Terengganu and Pekan, Pahang to enhance the income of participants through primary, tertiary and support economic activities. The Pekan Agropolitan Project, in particular, will help a total of 1,450 participants in the Pekan district to engage in oil palm cultivation and sheep rearing. This will move them closer towards the ECER’s objective of eradicating hardcore poverty.
The ECERDC encourages investment and to-date, some RM24 billion of investments have been committed in the ECER. This reflects the confidence of investors who see the Region’s huge potential, including the Government’s commitment in making the ECER a success, especially in facing the current economic challenges.
We are determined to pursue with the development of the ECER and transform it into a developed Region by 2020. To succeed, we not only have to strive harder, but also be more resourceful in devising creative and innovative approaches and solutions to counter the effects of the economic challenges.
The ECERDC will also continue marketing and promotion efforts, including domestic roadshows and overseas trade missions to generate more local and foreign investments, as well as increase participation from SMEs.
The establishment of ECERDC State Offices in Kota Bharu, Kuala Terengganu, and Kuantan will further ensure projects are smoothly coordinated and monitored, as well as to enhance facilitation and smooth coordination with the State Governments and their agencies during project implementation.
The east coast states have traditionally lagged behind in economic and social development compared to other states in Peninsular Malaysia. To help the Region make the leap forward to be on par with the rest of the country, the Government has approved a package of Special ECER Incentives over and above those offered in other parts of Malaysia.
This will give the Region a competitive edge in becoming a regional and world-class investment destination.
I am indebted to the leadership of our Prime Minister and Chairman of the ECERDC, Y.A.B. Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, for his vision and direction. I would like to thank the former Prime Minister, Y.A.Bhg. Tun Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi, who saw the need for a structured regional economic programme in addressing the socio-economic imbalance and laid the foundation for the formation of the ECER.
I would also like to record my appreciation to all the Menteri Besar-Menteri Besar of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Johor for their invaluable advice and guidance in helping to facilitate and fast-track all ECER projects in their respective states, for the overall development of the Region and its people.
I also appreciate the guidance and direction of the Council Members who have brought their collective experience and personal insights to the table, to make the implementation of ECER projects a focused effort. I am also thankful to the Prime Minister’s Department, the Economic Planning Unit and the Ministry of Finance, as well as the respective Federal and State Government departments and agencies, for their continued support in the facilitation of projects within the ECER. Without their invaluable support, the development of the ECER thus far could not have been fast-tracked.