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Iskandar Malaysia reaps RM50.5 bil investment

KUALA LUMPUR: Investment in Iskandar Malaysia remains positive despite the challenging economic environment with a total cumulative committed investment of RM50.5 billion since its launch three years ago.

Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) chief executive officer Harun Johari said the investment garnered was on track with 113% targeted cumulative committed investment for 2009 achieved to date.

"Out of this amount, RM23.52 billion was for manufacturing, RM14.6 billion for property, RM6.61 billion for utilities, tourism and others, and RM6.23 billion from the government," he told Bernama.

An update of the investment in the economic region was given at the seventh IRDA members of authority meeting held here on Nov 12.

Harun said a report on the progress attained by Iskandar Malaysia and the benefits for the people was presented at the meeting which was jointly chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman.

He said the members were updated on the progress of strategic initiatives in safety and security, public transport industry improvement, incentives and investments.

He also said the breakdown of committed investments has remained consistent with 51% local investment and 49% foreign investment.

As at October 2009, 35% of the cumulative committed investment of RM17.7 billion had already been spent, reflecting the actual work on the ground.

The new investment commitments for 2009 are expected to provide about 4,000 employment opportunities in Iskandar Malaysia throughout 2009 in addition to the 44,500 jobs created since the launch in 2006, Harun said.

He said in terms of safety and security development, it included the establishment of 138 community police posts and 200 trained auxiliary police personnel who will be deployed for high-visibility policing work by end of 2010.

At the end of this year, up to 10 community police posts will be launched to create a visible and strong police presence in residential communities.

Also by end of 2009, a total of 200 integrated closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are to be installed in the five municipalities of Iskandar Malaysia, comprising Pontian, Kulai, Pasir Gudang, Johor Baharu Tengah and Johor Baru.

This, according to Harun, is to enhance the monitoring of hot-spot areas in Iskandar Malaysia.

The members of authority meeting also discussed the implementation mechanism for the proposed preferential tax rate of 15% for Malaysian and foreign knowledge workers residing in Iskandar Malaysia.

The entitlement is for those working in the qualifying industry sectors of green technology, biotechnology, educational services, healthcare services, creative services, financial advisory and consulting services, logistics services and tourism.

Another item on the agenda was the public transport industry improvement project which saw the establishment of the Iskandar Malaysia Transport Steering Committee to provide governance and the Iskandar Malaysia Public Transport Team as the implementation vehicle with the Johor Economic Planning Unit as the lead agency.

The steering committee is chaired by Johor State Secretary Datuk Abdul Latiff Yusof.

Harun said the project implementation would result in public buses servicing previously unserved routes, termed as social routes, to close the service gap for some residential areas and emerging areas in Iskandar Malaysia.

From December 2009 to end of March next year, up to 40 buses will be on the road to service the social routes, he said.

Harun said the progress achieved so far was facilitated by IRDA working closely with state and federal agencies, local councils and key players that included manufacturers, property developers and those providing logistics, educational, healthcare and tourism services.

Iskandar Malaysia, he said, has been undergoing notable redevelopment in the past three years with improved roads, highways and interchanges, cleaner rivers, treated sewerage and flood mitigation projects, better connectivity and public transport facilities that are benchmarked against the world's best.

The improvements are expected to contribute towards smoother traffic flow, reduced travelling time, minimum flash floods in the city centre and improved bus service for commuters, Harun said.

According to him, the amenities will contribute towards a livable, safe, secure and environmentally sustainable environment, abundant with employment and wealth-creation opportunities for its residents and investors. — Bernama
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