Iskandar Malaysia calls for bids for RM2b jobs

KUALA LUMPUR: State-owned Iskandar Investment Bhd (IIB), the promoter and coordinator of the Iskandar Malaysia growth region in Johor, will call for bids for some RM2 billion worth of construction jobs within the enclave next year and rope in more local and foreign partners to undertake more initiatives.

IIB president and CEO Arlida Ariff said the RM2 billion worth of jobs to be awarded in 2010 involved the construction of buildings which included retail and education premises, and residential projects. These jobs will be rolled out based on open tender terms.

“So far, most of our construction contracts have been awarded to Malaysian companies,” Arlida told reporters at the Forbes Global CEO Conference here yesterday. IIB is a sponsor for the three-day event which ended yesterday.

Since the launch of Iskandar Malaysia in November 2006, about RM2 billion worth of projects involving mostly  infrastructures such as roads and highways had been awarded, according to Arlida.

Of the amount, projects related directly to IIB accounted for about half while the balance comprised government initiatives under the five-year Ninth Malaysia Plan which ends next year.

IIB hopes to rope in at least three partners next year. Arlida did not elaborate, only indicating that “we have about 50% foreign and 50% domestic partners coming in”.

So far, some US$13 billion (RM45.11 billion) worth of investment have been poured into Iskandar Malaysia since its launch, according to Arlida.

Iskandar Malaysia, initially, known as the South Johor Economic Region covers 2,217 sq km (547,821 acres/219,128 ha) encompassing the logistic triangle of Senai Airport to the north, Port of Tanjung Pelepas to the southwest and Johor Port in Pasir Gudang to the southeast.

The development plan is the first of five nationwide economic growth corridors announced by the Malaysian goverment.

The region, which is about three times the size of neigbouring Singapore, is expected to create more than 800,000 jobs between 2005 and 2025. Iskandar’s population is expected to more than double to around three million by then.

Iskandar Malaysia’s education and entertainment enclaves are worth noting. Arlida said IIB intended to convince another three universities to establish their campuses in the growth region where the UK’s Newcastle University had already set up a base.

Meanwhile, Iskandar Malaysia’s entertainment component is expected to see the development of three theme parks on some 1,200ha of land.

For a start, the growth region will acccommodate the RM750 million Legoland  which is the first in Asia. The park, to be jointly operated with the UK-based Merlin Entertainments Group Ltd, is due for launch in 2012.

Government investment arm Khazanah Nasional Bhd owns 60% of IIB, while the Employees Provident Fund and Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor Bhd have 20% each. IIB was established in 2006 with an asset base of about RM3.4 billion, comprising landbank and cash.

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