KOTA BHARU, 26 OCTOBER 2013: To showcase the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) success stories achieved in Kelantan since the launch of the development corridor in 2008 to date, the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) today held the ECER Open Day With The Rakyat at the Rural Transformation Centre (RTC) in Tunjung, Kota Bharu.

The one-day event was the second in a series of road show organised by ECERDC, in conjunction with ECER’s fifth anniversary celebration this year. Today’s event was jointly officiated by the Minister of International Trade and Industry, YB Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, and the Menteri Besar of Kelantan, YAB Ustaz Dato’ Haji Ahmad Yakob. Also present was ECERDC Chief Executive Officer, YBhg. Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John.

In implementing ECER projects and programmes in Kelantan, ECERDC leverages on the state’s competitive advantages in agriculture, cross border trading and tourism. Its goal is to lay the foundation of a sustainable economy, with a higher standard of living, higher income jobs and more entrepreneurial opportunities for the local population.

“I am happy to note that Kelantan has succeeded in attracting RM6.5 billion in investments since the establishment of ECER to date, which have created around 5,000 new jobs in the State,” said the Minister of International Trade and Industry, Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed in his speech.

He added that the Federal Government through ECERDC, has allocated RM630 million for 28 development projects in Kelantan under the 9th and 10th Malaysia Plans.

“The bulk of Federal expenditure in the State, at about 60% or RM362 million, is for social development initiatives. This is followed by manufacturing-related projects, with an allocation of RM145 million, while another RM96 million has been allocated to boost Kelantan’s agricultural sector to support food-based manufacturing to be developed in the state,” he noted.

ECERDC’s social initiatives include the South Kelantan Agropolitan, a poverty eradication programme in Gua Musang that has benefited some 300 participants and their families. The participants are now enjoying higher income through their involvement in oil palm plantation as the primary economic activity, and cocoa farming as their secondary source of income.

Another social development programme is empower ECER, which is currently being implemented in Jeli and Bachok. First introduced in the state in 2011, empower ECER targets low income groups in rural areas. It has two components, the Academic Training Programme for academically weak school children and the Skills and Entrepreneurial Program for single mothers, housewives and jobless youths.

The results have been impressive, with students recording a 100% pass rate in the UPSR, PMR and SPM. It has also recorded a marked rise in income among adult participants, many of whom have become successful entrepreneurs. Since its launch in Kelantan two years ago, empower ECER has given a new lease of life to 3,140 students and 1,800 adults in the State.

Another successful human capital development program is ECER Entrepreneurship Development Program, or EEDP, that grooms small scale business to move up to the next level. Working in collaboration with SIRIM and Agrobank, EEDP participants gain product knowledge from the former and financial assistance from the latter to grow their business. Launched in 2011, EEDP has groomed 12 small businesses in Kelantan, out of the total 580 entrepreneurs assisted under this programme throughout the entire ECER.

ECERDC’s TERAJU@ECER initiative, meanwhile, identifies Bumiputera businesses with strong growth prospects for the TERAS Facilitation Fund. Since its launch in 2012, TERAJU@ECER has selected nine Kelantan companies from 48 ECER companies as Syarikat Bumiputera Berprestasi Tinggi (TERAS) companies or High Performing Bumiputera Companies. The TERAJU-led TERAS programme aims to increase Bumiputera SME participation in the Malaysian economy by enabling them to scale up, accelerate their growth and compete in the open market.

To attract more investments to the State, ECERDC has embarked on strategic infrastructure projects such as the dual carriageway Central Spine Road that will improve connectivity and open up the rural hinterland of Kelantan. It has also developed the Pasir Mas Halal Park, Tok Bali Integrated Fisheries and the Pengkalan Kubor Collection, Processing and Packaging Centre for fish-based products. These integrated manufacturing complexes target downstream agro-based industries to move up the value chain and they are also designed to house small scale businesses to support key investors.

Pasir Mas Halal Park is one of two halal parks in ECER’s Halal Hub, planned in response to the overwhelming global demand for halal products. Phase 1 infrastructure of the 135-acre Taman Halal Pasir Mas was completed in July 2012 and the Entrepreneurial Business Centre was ready for occupation in June 2013. Currently, ECERDC is in discussion with six entrepreneurs to lease the premises. It is also in discussion with five potential investors to build manufacturing plants in the halal park.

Tok Bali Integrated Fisheries Park is designed to transform this coastal fishing village into a vibrant export-oriented fisheries hub while leveraging on its natural beauty to promote marine eco-tourism. In February 2013, the water treatment plant in Wakaf Bunut, a key component in the development of the fisheries park, became operational. In addition to supplying water for manufacturing operations in the park, the plant which has a capacity to treat 23-million litre of water daily also supplies water to consumers in Pasir Puteh, thus alleviating the long standing water shortage problems in the area.

The Pengkalan Kubor Collection, Processing and Packaging Centre is already operational, and it has an annual production capacity of 328,000 litres of premium fish sauce and budu. The facility is operated by the Persatuan Nelayan Kelantan, Tumpat which has some 2,000 members. It has also created 28 new jobs for the locals.

Kelantan Menteri Besar, YAB Ustaz Dato’ Haji Ahmad Yakob noted that cross border trading has always been a key economic activitiy in Kelantan but the State Government is keen to take it to the next level, especially in the context of the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle.

ECERDC has embarked on the transportation and traffic dispersal study for Kota Bahru, which will be transformed into a viable commercial hub to quicken the pace of cross-border trading with Southern Thailand.

Ustaz Dato’ Haji Ahmad Yakob also noted that market access depends on the availability of transport infrastructure. As such, the State looked forward to the completion of the Central Spine Road, a key Federal infrastructure enabler for Kelantan.

ECERDC Chief Executive Officer, Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John said ECERDC is committed in ensuring the successful implementation of ECER projects and programmes in Kelantan.

“We have always worked closely with the State Government and its agencies in carrying out our infrastructure and social development programmes in the State, and we look forward to maintaining this close relationship in the future which will ultimately benefit the rakyat of Kelantan,” Dato’ Issace noted.