ECER’S SOCIO-ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION SHOWS REMARKABLE PROGRESS UNDER 10MPEqual Emphasis On Capital Economy & People Economy; Spread Of Investments In Urban And Rural Areas Benefits Population Across The Region

KUALA LUMPUR, 9 APRIL 2015:  The Government’s balanced emphasis on capital economy and people economy in accelerating the socio-economic transformation of the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) has already shown positive results, as reflected in the surge of investments and the stronger pool of human capital and entrepreneurs in the Region.
The Federal Government has allocated RM6.6 billion for the implementation of high-impact projects in ECER through the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) under the 9th Malaysia Plan (9MP) and 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) to transform the Region into an investment destination of choice.
The public investment, which covers strategic infrastructure projects as well as human capital and entrepreneurship development programmes, has certainly paid off, as ECER had successfully attracted RM73.03 billion investments since 2007 until March this year. The investments will create 73,281 new job opportunities for the rakyat and they represent 66% of ECER’s RM110 billion investment target by 2020.
Sectorial-wise, the manufacturing cluster is the biggest contributor with RM39.19 billion, followed by tourism (RM13.67 billion), bio-economy (RM5.60 billion) and oil, gas and petrochemicals (RM4.7 billion).
Most importantly, investments in ECER are not merely restricted to urban areas and the ECER Special Economic Zone (ECER SEZ) as the Region has also received  investment commitments in rural areas such as Gua Musang (Kelantan), Besut (Terengganu), Jengka (Pahang) and Rompin (Mersing, Johor) among others, that will create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for the local communities there.
In addition to well-known multinationals such as BASF PETRONAS Chemicals Sdn Bhd, Kaneka Corporation and Mercedes Benz, among others, local small and medium-sized entrepreneurs (SMEs) are also among the investors in ECER.
ECER’s industrial parks such as Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP), Pekan Automotive Park, Kertih Biopolymer Park, Kuantan Integrated Biopark, Gambang Halal Park and Pasir Mas Halal continue to attract investors’ interest due to their unique positioning and competitive advantage, accumulating RM16.7 billion in investment commitments to date that will create 14,430 new job opportunities. The industrial parks were unaffected during the East Coast massive floods last December as they were designed to be built above flood levels.
MCKIP, the first industrial park in Malaysia to be jointly developed by both Malaysia and China and also the first to be accorded the “National Industrial Park” status, has already attracted RM9.7 billion in investments. Construction works to build primary infrastructure at the park by ECERDC and an integrated steel mill by Alliance Steel (M) Sdn Bhd are currently ongoing. IJM Land Berhad and Sime Darby Property are the new Malaysian consortium partners in developing the industrial park, whereby together with the Pahang State Government, they now own 51% of Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park Sdn Bhd (MCKIPSB), the Master Developer of MCKIP.
The remaining 49 per cent stake in MCKIPSB is owned by a Chinese consortium, led by the state-owned conglomerate Guangxi Beibu Gulf International Port Group with a 95 per cent equity interest. The remaining 5 per cent is held by the Qinzhou Investment Company.
The positioning of ECER SEZ as the investment gateway to the Asean and Asia Pacific markets will be further strengthened upon completion of the Kuantan Port expansion, which is currently ongoing and is expected to be completed by 2016. The expansion of Kuantan Port into a deepwater port will enable it to receive bigger, modern vessels of up to 200,000 DWT (dead weight tonne) in size, including Cape-sized vessels.
ECERDC has also made commendable achievement in accelerating the growth of people economy in ECER through various human capital and entrepreneurship development programmes such as empower ECER, entrepreneur ECER, Agropolitan, ECER Talent Enhancement Programme, TERAJU@ECER and Suri@Home. These programmes have benefitted nearly 48,000 locals including nearly 23,000 rural students and over 11,400 adults under empower ECER,and created more than 9,000 entrepreneurs in ECER, of whom 61 percent or over 6,000 of them are women entrepreneurs.
ECERDC’s entrepreneur ECER programme, an entrepeneurship development initiative which is implemented in collaboration with SIRIM, Agrobank and Maybank, has benefitted 1,740 entrepreneurs in the Region. Of the amount, some 1,662 have received financial assistance via the ECERDC-Agrobank soft loan scheme, whereby the level of non-performing loans among the participants stood at only 1.4%, far lower than the national average.  Another 78 entrepreneurs have benefitted from the product development and marketing programme provided under ECERDC’s collaboration with SIRIM to bring their businesses to the next level, whereby they have seen their earning increased by 20% on average.
Suri@Home focuses on cottage industries for housewives, and it has trained 41 women to play a vital role in preserving the culture and heritage of ECER such as Tenun Pahang and Songket weaving. This has resulted in their household income growing to as much as RM2,500 per month.
ECER Talent Enhancement Programme (ETEP) targets new engineering graduates who are provided on-the-job training as part of talent development. As at end-2014, 164 engineering graduates had attended this programme which was held in collaboration with DRB-HICOM and Kaneka in Pahang. They are now successfully employed by the respective companies upon completing their training, earning an average of RM3,000 monthly.  Another 617 participants are expected to take part in ETEP this year.
ECERDC’s Teraju@ECER initiative is tailored to address the Government’s Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda. Since its launch in 2012, it has benefitted 111 bumiputera companies in ECER, comprising 73 Syarikat Bumiputera Berprestasi Tinggi (TeraS) who were given business guidance and consultation to expand their business, while 41 companies with investments worth RM881 million were awarded with TERAJU Facilitation Fund amounting RM113 million.
ECERDC’s Agropolitan poverty eradication initiative implemented in Pekan (Pahang), Gua Musang (Kelantan) and Besut-Setiu (Terengganu) has so far benefitted 840 participants and their families, including 102 Orang Asli families. Previously earning about RM500 or less per month, the participants are now earning an average income of RM1,200 a month through agriculture activities such as Dorper sheep rearing and oil palm plantation.
The Government has also spent RM250 million under the Special Fund initiative to undertake infrastructure and socio-economic projects in areas formerly administered by Pahang Tenggara Development Authority (DARA) and Jengka Regional Development Authority (LKWJ), which have benefitted over 719,000 rakyat in the areas.
“The year 2015 is very important as it marks the final year of the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP), before we move forward to the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) next year,” said ECERDC Chief Executive Officer, YBhg. Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John after ECERDC’s first council meeting for 2015 which was chaired by the Prime Minister, YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak here today.
“As such, ECERDC will continue to give equal emphasis on capital economy and people economy to ensure a balanced and inclusive development in ECER, in line with our goal to accelerate the Region’s socio-economic transformation and empowering the rakyat,” said Datuk Seri Issace.
Moving forward, focus will be given on high-end sectors such as biotechnology, oil, gas and petrochemical, as well as ICT that are able to expand the value chain and create more job and business opportunities for the rakyat.  ECERDC will also continue to ensure that all its projects and programmes will take into account the needs and participation of the middle class and the lower 40% group, said Datuk Seri Issace.