Tourism and Agriculture Identified As Key Sectors To Spur The State’s Socio-Economic Progress
KELANTAN, 22 FEBRUARY 2020: The Federal Government, through the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC), is working closely with the Kelantan State Government to implement various high impact projects and human capital development programmes to revitalise the State’s socio-economic development, with the goal of uplifting the livelihood of the rakyat and eradicating poverty, in line with the national agenda.
Kelantan recorded the highest poverty rate in ECER and the second highest in Malaysia. The recent revision of the state’s Poverty Line Income (PLI) from RM894 to RM2,139 for Kelantan in 2020 is expected to increase in the number of households living in poverty from 18,345 to 50,255. The poverty rate among the 16,712 Orang Asli in Kelantan is absolute.
“It is estimated that more than 28,000 people in Kelantan are unemployed and almost half are graduates. This is why the creation of jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities remain our top priority in Kelantan. While the pandemic has impacted our goals in the short term, we will continue to implement infrastructure projects and human capital development programmes for the long-term growth of the State. This will lay the groundwork that will facilitate the attraction of greater investments into the State, which will ultimately create more jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for the rakyat,” said Encik Baidzawi Che Mat, Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC at the ECER Implementation and Coordination Committee (ICC) Kelantan held today.
A key sector that has been identified as having potential to create long-term economic growth is tourism. While borders remain closed to international travellers, enhancing the infrastructure at key tourism sites will increase the industry’s resilience once borders are reopened and facilitate domestic tourists. Another key focus is the agriculture sector, especially in the fishing, dairy and meat industry which holds high potential to generate further socio-economic development.
The thrust of Kelantan’s tourism development is to lay the foundation that would enable long-term socio-economic activities for the rakyat while preserving the local culture of the State. A key project is the redevelopment of the historic Kampung Laut, as a “Kampung Warisan” or Heritage Village. Kampung Laut is set to become an iconic heritage tourism center and a ‘must visit’ destination in Kelantan. ECERDC envisions it to be a living museum which will not only boost socio-economic activities through tourism, but also serves to preserve local village culture and traditions.
ECERDC is developing two new commercial complexes adjacent to the 300-year old Masjid Kampung Laut, namely Laman Warisan and Laman Seni, to attract and cater to the needs of tourists at the site. The complexes will feature spaces for local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to feature local traditional delicacies such as the famous serunding Kampung Laut, crafts and souvenirs to the visiting public. Laman Warisan is targeted to be completed in May 2021, providing business opportunities for 11 local entrepreneurs, while Laman Seni, which is targeted to be completed by January 2022 will have 12 SME units to showcase and sell local products such as batik, wau and handicrafts.
Another key project in the pipeline is the upgrade of Pulau Suri Floating Market. This is expected to attract more tourists to the Thai-style floating market which will benefit local traders. The scope of the project includes the construction of market and jetty platforms, a covered food court and other public infrastructure works.
Infrastructure projects that improve connectivity are enablers that will open up new economic opportunities in Kelantan and realise the state’s potential. Kelantan stands to benefit from five key connectivity projects being undertaken by the Federal Government. They are the East Coast Highway 3 (LPT3), Central Spine Road (CSR) which includes the Kota Baru-Kuala Krai highway stretch, upgrading of Pasir Puteh-Machang-Jeli road, extension and upgrading of the Sultan Ismail Petra Airport in Pengkalan Chepa, and construction of the Palekbang bridge. These game-changing projects will not only improve connectivity between Kelantan to the rest of the country, it will also trigger economic ripple effects in the areas along their path.
Agriculture is a key economic focus in the State, in line with the nation’s focus on ensuring food security. Among projects that will encourage value-added activities and enable new entrepreneurial opportunities and job creation for the rakyat is the Tok Bali Integrated Fisheries Park (TBIFP). This project will create an integrated facility which will provide down streaming opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to produce high-value fish products such as processing of prawns, frozen products, fish canning and the production of surimi and surimi products.
To further drive the development of the agriculture sector, ECERDC is working actively with the Kelantan state government, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries, private investors, as well as other stakeholders to develop a dairy valley in Kelantan, with the aim of replicating the success of the Muadzam Shah Cattle Research and Innovation Centre in Muadzam Shah, Pahang.
HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT
Human capital development (HCD) remains a major priority for ECERDC in Kelantan to help the rakyat adapt and survive the new economic reality brought about by the pandemic and increasing household below poverty line with the increase in PLI. ECERDC’s human capital development programmes run on two parallel tracks; addressing both the current need for locals to secure better paying jobs in a rapidly transforming economy as well as the need to prevent the future poor. Emphasis is placed on training programmes that anticipate future needs such as digitalisation and IR4.0 skills to enhance the employability of the rakyat.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ECERDC has also extended its ECER Talent Enhancement Programme (ETEP) under PENJANA-ECERDC to support investors and the rakyat who are affected in the short term. ECERDC’s Train & Place programme offers several technical courses, equipping participants with skills required by industries, with job placements secured before training commences. ECERDC targets to train 5,000 people under this programme and to date, 989 have secured job placements. The rest of the participants are projected to complete their training by May 2021.
ECERDC is also developing entrepreneurs through the empower ECER programme. A total of 2,393 new entrepreneurs were developed and trained in skills such as bookkeeping and digitalization and 96% of them have utilised digital platforms to increase sales. ECERDC also helped the participants formalise their business. Under the entrepreneur ECER programme, 4,081 entrepreneurs have been facilitated to scale up their business by improving production quality, packaging, branding and certification. These entrepreneurs have created about 8,000 jobs for locals in their community.
In year 2021, ECERDC targets to attract RM2.9 billion committed investment which is expected to generate 2,300 jobs opportunities and 270 entrepreneurial opportunities.
To increase the momentum of investments into Kelantan, ECERDC will continue engagements with various chambers of commerce besides promotion efforts that emphasize on focus sectors with channel partners such as Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and Malaysian Industrial Development Finance (MIDF), among others. ECERDC will also continue to work closely with the Federal and Kelantan state government to carry out its investment strategy on key economic clusters identified for Kelantan which include agribusiness, tourism and resource-based industries.
Strategic projects that are being implemented and being planned will complement the promotion of investment into Kelantan since these projects are among the key factors for investment decision.
“ECERDC remains committed to improving the economic future and raising the living standards of the people in Kelantan, through the numerous high-impact projects and transformation programmes that will boost investment promotion, develop Kelantan’s public infrastructure and empower the rakyat through human capital efforts,” concluded Encik Baidzawi.