KUALA TERENGGANU, 7 NOVEMBER 2013: The Federal Government via the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) has allocated RM1.11 billion for the implementation of 41 East Coast Economic Region (ECER) programmes and projects in Terengganu under the 9th and 10th Malaysia Plans.

The allocation has been approved for the implementation of infrastructure and social development initiatives in Terengganu, which are aimed at enhancing the state’s appeal as an attractive investment destination and improving the socio-economic status of the rakyat.

“We are pleased to note that since ECER’s establishment five years ago, Terengganu has attracted RM20.36 billion in private investments to date, which in turn, have created 10,847 new jobs for the rakyat and 789 new entrepreneurs in the state,” said ECERDC Chief Executive Officer, Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John at a Media briefing here today, which was held in conjunction with ECER’s 5th anniversary this year.

The investors include global names such as Malaysia’s PETRONAS, Gevo and Huntsman from the United States, France’s Arkema, South Korea’s Cheiljedang and Shougang Corporation of China.

Dato’ Issace added that the public and private investments have accelerated the momentum of economic transformation in Terengganu.

“There has been income growth and a consequent rise in living standards. This is the primary goal of ECERDC, which works hand-in-hand with the State Government to accelerate the transformation of the state economy, which will ultimately benefit the rakyat.”

ECERDC is implementing various strategic projects and programmes that leverage on Terengganu’s rich natural resources, such as oil and natural gas, iron ore, agriculture and tourism.

“The development of Kertih Biopolymer Park (KBP), which focuses on biotechnology-related sectors, will complement the state’s well-established oil and gas industry,” Dato’ Issace said.

KBP is home to the world’s first integrated bio-methionine and thiochemicals plant, a major project that is expected to position Terengganu as a centre of new technologies and a regional leader in biorefinery. Located on a 70-hectare land in ECER’s Kertih Biopolymer Park, the RM2 billion project involves the development of Korea’s CJ CheilJedang (CJ)’s bio-methionine plant and France’s Arkema’s thiochemicals platform. Construction is currently ongoing and the facility is expected to be operational in 2014. The integrated facility will be the first in the world to use fermentation process in producing L-methionine, an amino acid commonly used in the manufacturing of animal feed.

Another biotechnology player in Terengganu is Colorado-based Gevo Inc., a renewable chemicals and next generation biofuels company. Gevo plans to establish a cellulosic biomass isobutanol facility in KBP, where it will be creating history as the first to commercially produce biobased isobutanol from lignocellulosic biomass in the industry when the facility in Kertih begins operations.

In the agriculture cluster, ECERDC has earmarked Pasir Raja Herbal Bio Park for the commercial cultivation of 10 high value herbs as raw materials for halal pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals. Construction of basic infrastructure is underway to attract investors to Pasir Raja Hebal Bio Park and it is scheduled for completion in late 2013.

In addition, ECERDC is also developing the Kuala Berang Sheep Breeding & Innovation Centre, which will be operational in early 2014. An established player will be appointed as an Anchor Company to drive the industry, where it will be sharing new agricultural technologies and practices with local farmers, who will be groomed as contract farmers.

Another ECER strategic project is the Kemaman Heavy Industries Park (KHIP), developed to take advantage of locally available iron ore reserves. It specialises in iron and steel fabrication to support upstream operations of oil & gas players in Terengganu. KHIP’s lead investor is Eastern Steel, a joint venture partnership between Hiap Tech Venture Berhad of Malaysia and the Shougang Corporation of China, a global Fortune 500 company. Eastern Steel is investing in a RM1.8 billion integrated steel mill complex in Tanjung Kalung that will introduce new steel technologies to Malaysia.

In the tourism cluster, ECERDC has embarked on the development of the Kuala Terengganu City Centre (KTCC) since 2011 to strengthen the positioning of the state capital as the Eastern Tourism Gateway of ECER. The KTCC Master Plan incorporates tourism, commercial, education, health and residential components that will make the city a more attractive place for tourism and residence alike.

ECERDC is constructing a drawbridge to link Muara South and Muara North. Designed as the iconic landmark of contemporary Kuala Terengganu, the drawbridge is also a traffic dispersal system. Construction of the drawbridge will commence in January 2014 and is scheduled for completion in 2016. Infrastructure works are underway in Muara South, and scheduled for completion this month.

KTCC Mall Sdn Bhd has already committed a total of RM1 billion to build a shopping mall, a 4-star hotel with 250 rooms and 500 units of business suites at KTCC. The mall is expected to be operational by the end of 2014, while the hotel is scheduled for completion by end-2016.

ECERDC has also embarked on a coastal protection project in Dungun, where artificial headlands are being constructed to protect Teluk Lipat Beach from erosion. Dungun is also being primed for redevelopment as a coastal tourism destination, leveraging on the existing fishing community in the area to create a “Seafood Drive” along its beach.

The Federal Government, through ECERDC, has also allocated RM10 million to upgrade basic infrastructure at Pulau Redang, Pulau Perhentian and Pulau Kapas, which are already well known as key tourist attractions in the state.

To ensure that no one is left out of the new prosperity, ECERDC has also introduced various social development programmes in Terengganu such as Besut-Setiu Agropolitan and empower ECER.

ECERDC’s Agropolitan initiative uses the agriculture platform to eradicate poverty, whereby selected participants are employed in agriculture-related projects. For Besut-Setiu Agropolitan, some 100 participants are now involved in Dorper sheep farming as their primary source of income, whereby they are now earning about RM1,000 monthly, compared to RM350 before joining the programme.

The participants and their families are also living in new, modern homes built by ECERDC, complete with community facilities. Agropolitan participants are provided on-the-job training, motivational and money management training to help them build a brighter future. Families also have the opportunity to earn additional income from secondary economic activities, while children attend academic programmes conducted by ECERDC.

empower ECER is a grassroots human capital development programme introduced by ECERDC to enhance the quality of human capital in ECER. It has two components, namely the Academic Training Programme which offers remedial classes and motivational sessions for academically weak examination-year students from low income families, and the Skills and Entrepreneurship Training Programme that targets single mothers, unemployed youths and disadvantaged segments of the community.

empower ECER was first introduced in Terengganu in 2011, starting with Kemanan and expanded to Dungun in 2013 To date, 1,200 students and 1,300 adults have benefitted from this programme in Terengganu. empower ECER has a record of delivering a 100% pass rate, with 37% of students in Terengganu scoring straight A’s. For adults, more than 80% of participants have gained employment upon completion of their courses or have sufficient knowledge and practical experience to start their own business. On average, incomes have grown up to RM1,200 per month, with some of them even earning as much as RM7,000 a month.

The ECER Enterpreneurship Development Programme (EEDP) was launched in 2011 to encourage SMEs and the Bumiputra Commercial and Investment Community (BCIC) to participate in ECER projects. Through collaborations with SIRIM and Agrobank, selected companies are provided guidance in terms of marketing, branding and product training, as well as soft loans or micro-credit financing to take their business to the next level. To date, EEDP has benefited 300 entrepreneurs in Terengganu out of the total 770 selected participants in ECER. The amount comprises 294 participants under the EEDP-AGROBANK scheme, plus another 6 entrepreneurs under the EEDP-SIRIM programme.

Under TERAJU@ECER programme, 21 companies from Terengganu were identified as Syarikat Bumiputera Berprestasi Tinggi (TERAS) companies or High Performing Bumiputera Companies, out of the total 48 ECER-based companies that were selected as TERAS firms. The TERAJU-led TERAS programme aims to increase Bumiputera SMEs’ participation in the Malaysian economy by enabling them to scale up, accelerate their growth and compete in the open market.

In addition, four companies in Terengganu have been selected as recipients of the TERAJU@ECER Facilitation Fund, with their total investments amounting to RM118.83 million. This programme is expected to boost Bumiputera participation in the development of ECER, while creating more local entrepreneurs in the Region.

ECER’s projects and programmes and their impact to the people of Terengganu will be showcased at Hari Terbuka ECER Bersama Rakyat to be held from 9am to 6pm, Saturday, 9 November at the Terengganu Trade Centre. The event will be launched by the Menteri Besar, YAB Dato’ Seri Haji Ahmad bin Said.