COVID-19 mitigation initiatives implemented to maintain Region’s competitiveness
PUTRAJAYA, 9 JULY 2020: The Federal Government through the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) will continue to drive the implementation of strategic projects and attract new investment to keep the development momentum going and revitalise the economy in the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) post COVID-19.
ECERDC has also outlined strategies to spur the economy in the ECER and mitigate impact of COVID-19 pandemic to the rakyat as the nation enters into its recovery phase. These strategies will work in tandem with Federal Government’s National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA).
Strategic Projects will Drive Growth
“While the recovery plan is being rolled out, we remain focused on our primary agenda of enabling the region’s socio-economic transformation and growth. As such, in addition to the recovery agenda, the strategic projects that have been earmarked in the ECER Master Plan 2.0 (EMP 2.0) will continue in full force to ensure long term growth in the region,” said Encik Baidzawi Che Mat, Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC, following the ECERDC Council meeting chaired by YAB Prime Minister, Tan Sri Haji Muhyiddin Haji Mohd Yassin.
Other Council members present at the meeting were the Menteri Besar of Kelantan, Ustaz Dato’ Bentara Kanan Haji Ahmad Yakob; Menteri Besar of Terengganu, Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar; Menteri Besar of Pahang, Dato’ Sri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail; and Menteri Besar of Johor, Datuk Ir. Hasni Mohammad; as well as Senior Minister of International Trade and Industry, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali; Minister of Finance, Senator Tengku Dato’ Sri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz; Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy), Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed and Chief Secretary to the Government, Datuk Seri Mohd Zuki bin Ali.
Key catalytic projects have been earmarked to sustain the region’s push for economic recovery and growth. As the manufacturing cluster is the biggest contributor to ECER’s economic development, infrastructure projects including the expansion of industrial parks, logistics and services will be implemented to increase ECER’s competitiveness and attract more private investment. Among the projects are the expansion of Kerteh Biopolymer Park in Terengganu, construction of Kuantan Port City port link road and Kemaman-Gebeng water supply project in Pahang.
To further strengthen the region’s appeal as a distinctive and dynamic destination for investments, ECERDC and the Pahang State government will establish a One-Stop Centre (OSC) in Gebeng, Pahang within the ECER Special Economic Zone. The proposed OSC will see the Federal and State governments collaborating to facilitate realisation of investments into the region as well as business activities of investors. This will make the OSC a model that can be replicated across ECER to enhance economic development across the Region.
“The pandemic is a brief setback and we will continue as planned in EMP 2.0. With the strong foundation built over the past 10 years, ECER has attracted RM122.6 billion in committed investment to date, which will create 118,700 job opportunities and develop 10,720 entrepreneurs. Despite the challenges brought by the pandemic, with the strategies laid out, we are confident that the EMP 2.0 target of RM70 billion in new investments, creating 120,000 job opportunities and 60,000 new entrepreneurs by 2025 can be achieved,” said Encik Baidzawi.
Domestic tourism will play a major role in economic recovery post COVID-19, as international travel restrictions will remain in force in the foreseeable future. However, ECER is well-positioned to capitalise on the demand for domestic tourism as ECERDC has completed projects which have created destinations in the region. ECER has several new iconic attractions, including the KTCC drawbridge which has become a crowd-puller to ECER, and Kuantan 188 which is the second highest observation tower in Malaysia.
To further boost domestic tourism, it is critical that several other key tourist attractions be completed. These include the redevelopment of Kampung Laut in Kelantan, Kampungstay Air Papan in Mersing, Johor, and the upgrading of infrastructure in the islands in ECER. Investing into creating destinations is crucial as it will create more tourism products that Malaysians can be proud of and be attracted to visit. Additionally, continued promotion and investment into domestic tourism will revive this industry which will sustain jobs and create entrepreneurial opportunities for locals involved in the tourism industry.
COVID-19 has underlined the need for Malaysia to focus on food security. In the medium to long term, enhancing Malaysia’s food production and other downstream activities will be an important focus. Therefore, strategic agriculture projects will be pursued and private investors will be identified to collaborate under public-private smart partnership to ensure long-term sustainability. Key projects include the establishment of Jemaluang Dairy Valley which is targeted to produce 4.8 million litres of milk a year, the Tok Bali Integrated Fisheries Park which will focus on value-added processing activities, and Endau Mersing Fish Processing Park which will establish a new fisheries hub in the district and SMEs with a platform to produce high value fish products.
ECERDC also plans to implement downstream projects such as dairy goat, fisheries transformation plan, Lembu Sado and mud crab projects, which will also create multiple jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for the rakyat in the agriculture sector.
Boosting Cross-border Trade
Infrastructure projects are a key enabler of cross border economic activities. This is even more crucial post COVID-19 in order for ECER’s economy to remain competitive.
Several key projects that are critical to the region’s macro-economic growth have been identified as they are catalysts for cross-border trading activities, which will spur the local economy, especially in Kelantan. These include the development of the Tok Bali Port as strategic trading outpost to the Indo-China Region, Tok Bali Industrial Park, Tak Bai-Pengkalan Kubor Bridge, Rantau Panjang-Sg Golok Bridge, and Sungai Golok flood mitigation project which will enhance cross border trade between Kelantan and Thailand.
These projects will complement the five infrastructure projects earlier announced for Kelantan which are Lebuh Raya Pantai Timur Fasa 3 (LPT3), Pasir Puteh-Machang Jeli Link, part of Central Spine Road comprising Kota Bharu-Kuala Krai Highway, upgrading Sultan Ismail Petra Airport and Palekbang-Kota Bharu Bridge which will change the investment landscape and boost economic activities in the state.
Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19
“The COVID-19 outbreak has affected people in every strata of society, particularly micro entrepreneurs and SMEs. ECERDC is working closely with the state governments of Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan and Johor, as well as our strategic partners to ensure that the rakyat receive the necessary assistance during these difficult times,” continued Encik Baidzawi.
As one of the key government agencies to implement the PENJANA programmes, ECERDC has outlined several initiatives in its economic recovery strategy to support all stakeholders in ECER. These include reskilling and upskilling programmes to enhance the employability of the rakyat, fast-tracking digital adoption among SMEs and micro entrepreneurs, as well as supporting existing investors who are impacted by the pandemic.
Under ECERDC’s existing smart partnerships with Maybank and Agrobank, qualified SMEs and micro entrepreneurs are able to enjoy a 50% interest-rate subsidy under ECER-Maybank and ECER-Agrobank facilities. These facilities will include the PENJANA SME financing which will enable qualified SMEs and micro entrepreneurs to pay a lower interest rate of 1.75% on their loans.
Realising the severity of COVID-19 impact to the labour market, further enhancement has been incorporated into the ECER Talent Enhancement Programme (ETEP). Through the Enhanced ETEP programme, participating employers will be provided wage subsidy in the form of salary reimbursements of up to 50% or RM1,250 whichever is lower, for a period of up to 12 months while existing or new workers undergo training. Enhanced ETEP is expected to benefit more than 1,700 employees and help 600 employers across all sectors retain their workers.
Inclusive Human Capital Development Programmes
ECERDC is also enhancing its empower ECER human capital development programme for the Orang Asli, which have proven to be effective in improving academic performance and living standards. The empower ECER (Academic Training Programme) has increased the transition of Orang Asli students from primary to secondary schools to 91%, which is now almost at par with those of national schools. The percentage of empower ECER Orang Asli students’ acceptance into tertiary institutions has also increased every year from 31% in 2017 to 50% in 2018 and 51% in 2019.
For adult participants, ECERDC’s programmes such as the empower ECER (Skills and Entrepreneurship Training), entrepreneur ECER, Agropolitan and private-led projects i.e. Ladang Nanas Bersepadu Rompin (RIPP) have created and developed 384 entrepreneurs, lifted 65 families from hardcore poverty and provided stable jobs for 101 Orang Asli.
Digital Transformation via Adoption of Industry 4.0
ECERDC has already laid the blueprint for ECER’s digital transformation under the EMP2.0. The region’s long-term digital transformation will be supported by the Asia Center of Excellence for Smart Technologies (ACES), which will play a critical role in spearheading Industry 4.0 adoption in the ECER. ECERDC is corporatising ACES to better serve digitalisation efforts for businesses across all sectors.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the urgency for digital transformation in all fronts and at all levels. One of ECERDC’s key strategies to help the rakyat in ECER cope with the economic impact of the pandemic is to facilitate the digital transformation of SMEs, micro entrepreneurs and other industry players in the region by rolling out training in digital reskilling and upskilling for active entrepreneurs through the empower ECER and entrepreneur ECER programmes.
“In the midst of adversities, it is important that we rally together and support each other in the spirit of ‘Kita Jaga Kita’. We will continue to identify opportunities to mitigate the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure the rakyat in ECER receive the necessary support to recover and find success in the new normal,” concluded Encik Baidzawi.
About ECER and ECERDC
The East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) is a statutory body established to spearhead the execution and implementation of the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) Master Plan. ECERDC plays a lead role in setting the directions, policies and strategies for the socio-economic development of ECER by promoting and facilitating investments into the region.
ECER, which covers the states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and the district of Mersing in Johor, is a rapidly transforming region that is steadily positioning itself as a distinctive, dynamic and competitive destination for investments.
Geographically, it covers a total area of over 66,000 sq km or 51% of Peninsular Malaysia. It is home to some 4.3 million people, or about 15% of the total national population. The economic growth in the region is driven by six key economic clusters; namely Tourism, Oil, Gas & Petrochemical, Manufacturing, Agribusiness, Human Capital and Entrepreneurship Development as well as Logistics and Services. These clusters are supported by developments in Transportation, Infrastructure, Property and Environment to make the region an ideal destination for business, investment and quality living.
For media inquiries, kindly contact:
Tengku Mazlinda Tengku Mahmood
Manager, Media Relations
East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC)
Tel: 03-8885 0182 / 010-408 1085