CONNECTING BORDERS: SEIZING OPPORTUNITIES IN KELANTAN’S INVESTMENT GROWTH
ECERDC to continue to catalyse the diversification of Kelantan’s economy
KOTA BHARU, 3 DECEMBER 2023: The East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) celebrated its 15th anniversary in Kelantan highlighting opportunities arising from greater connectivity with the upcoming completion of the ECER’s strategic logistics infrastructure such as Lebuhraya Lingkaran Tengah Utama (formerly known as Central Spine Road), East Coast Rail Line (ECRL) and the Sultan Ismail Petra airport expansion project.
Since its establishment in 2008, ECERDC’s consistent effort in collaboration with the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and the Kelantan state government have yielded a total of RM10.9 billion in realised investment to Kelantan. This investment has created close to 10,000 jobs and more than 2,000 entrepreneurial opportunities for the people of Kelantan.
Menteri Besar of Kelantan YAB Dato’ Panglima Perang Ustaz Dato’ Haji Mohd Nassuruddin Bin Haji Daud in his opening speech at ECERDC’s 15th Anniversary celebration at H Elite Design Hotel, in Tunjong, Kota Bharu expressed his aspiration in continuing the state’s industrialization journey by taking full advantage of the upcoming completion of ECER’s strategic logistics projects.
“With ECERDC playing a pivotal role in catalyzing Kelantan’s economic diversification, I believe that the completion of the ECRL will be the game changer that would elevate cross border trade. I would like MSMEs to grab the opportunity to expand, innovate and embrace this opportunity as ECRL will enhance movement of goods via Kuantan Port and Port Klang to Indo China, European markets and beyond. I am also confident that the ECER’s Kelantan Special Incentive Package will also contribute towards attracting new investments and increasing cross-border trade opportunities, which will help Kelantan achieve its growth trajectory,” said YAB Dato’ Panglima Perang Ustaz Dato’ Haji Mohd Nassuruddin Bin Haji Daud.
Under the Kelantan Special Incentive Package, eligible investors can enjoy income tax special rate of 0% for 15 years and an extension of another five years income tax at a special rate of 17%. Furthermore, non-citizens holding senior management positions in companies that are included under this initiative will be subject to a flat tax rate of 15% as an added incentive to increase Kelantan’s competitiveness as an investment destination.
The highlight of ECERDC’s 15th Anniversary celebration in Kelantan was a panel discussion on “Connecting Borders: Seizing Opportunities, Taking the Next Leap!” which revolved around advancing Kelantan’s MSMEs to the next level, which is transitioning from products for local market to the global market. The panel discussed opportunities that will arise from the completion of strategic logistic projects that will make Kelantan another attractive proposition for investors and also for the local MSME to expand the market for their products beyond the borders of the State. The panelists were YBM Dato’ Dr. Tengku Kaya Perkasa, Tengku Mohamed Faziharudean bin Tengku Feissal, State Financial Officer; En. Saifuz Zaman Bin Aziz, Head of Railway Management, Malaysia Rail Link Sdn. Bhd. (MRL); En. Redziwan Bin Saari, CEO of Ain Medicare and Pn. Hizramurny Zakaria, Regional Head for the Eastern Region, Malaysian Industrial Development Finance (MIDF) Berhad and was moderated by Dato’ Ragu Sampasivam, Chief Operating Officer of ECERDC.
“Currently, there are nearly 50,000 MSMEs registered in Kelantan, with most of them classified as microenterprises. ECERDC is developing ECER Master Plan 3.0 (EMP 3.0) plans to chart Kelantan’s future growth, and one of the focus is on modernising the MSME ecosystem, moving away from services to manufacturing of high value-added products. With improved logistics, synergies between Kelantan SMEs and its Thai counterpart could be created thus creating new opportunities in the region. Further, the upcoming completion of the ECRL which connects Tunjong to Kuantan Port and Port Klang will reduce travel time, opening up new opportunities along its route,” said YBhg. Dato’ Baidzawi Che Mat, Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC at the event.
The anniversary event brought together ECERDC’s key stakeholders from Federal and State government agencies, industry leaders, prospective investors, strategic partners and participants of the Human Capital Development Programmes (HCD). Present were YB Dato’ Kaya Setia Dato’ Haji Nazran bin Muhammad, Kelantan State Secretary; YB Dato’ Mejar (R) Haji Md. Anizam bin Ab. Rahman, Investment, Industry, Human Resources, Trade and Entrepreneurship Committee Chairman; YBM Dato’ Dr. Tengku Mohamed Faziharudean bin Tengku Feissal (Tengku Kaya Perkasa), Kelantan State Financial Officer; YBrs. En. M Ahmad Shazly Ramly, PETRONAS East Coast General Manager; YBrs. Puan Rafidah Mokhdar, SIRIM Berhad Group Chief Strategy Officer and YBhg. Dato’ Ragu Sampasivam, Chief Operating Officer of ECERDC.
Apart from attracting investments, ECERDC has also for the past 15 years contributed to the state’s socio-economic growth by implementing strategic infrastructure projects such as the upgrading of Loji Rawatan Air at Wakaf Bunut and Kelar, Kampung Laut redevelopment project which comprises Laman Warisan Seni, Laman Warisan Serunding and the relocation of Masjid Kampung Laut. ECERDC’s Tok Bali Integrated Fisheries Park (Phase 1A & 1B) will provide investors and SME players an opportunity to participate in downstream fish processing activities. To attract local and foreign investors seeking growth in general manufacturing and downstreaming of agricultural products with easy access to Southern Thailand, ECERDC will also be constructing the Tok Bali Industrial Park (TBIP) which is expected to start in December 2023.
At the event, YAB Menteri Besar Kelantan presented awards to five (5) ECERDC’s investors in various categories and acknowledged the contribution of Yayasan PETRONAS, SIRIM, Agrobank and Maybank as ECERDC’s strategic partners in the implementation of human capital development programmes, and the commitment of Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) as the service providers and programme facilitators. At the event, 86 participants of Yayasan PETRONAS empower ECER Skills Training & Entrepreneurship Development programme and Yayasan PETRONAS entrepreneur ECER programme received their certificates of participation.
Also held on the same day was a showcase from successful participants of the entrepreneur ECER programme and an SME exhibition. Since the entrepreneur ECER programme was first introduced in 2011, more than 7,600 existing entrepreneurs in Kelantan have been further developed through various activities and programmes such as Halal and MeSTI certification, product quality improvement through improved branding, packaging and labeling, as well as financing through cooperation with Agrobank and Maybank.
“Their success can be attributed to the Kelantanese people’s strong entrepreneurial spirit. Therefore, it is not surprising that entrepreneurs from Kelantan made up 40% of the 19,000 ECER entrepreneurs developed by ECERDC. These entrepreneurs have contributed to the local economy by creating about 18,000 job opportunities in various industries,” added YBhg. Dato’ Baidzawi.