KLIFD to get off the ground early next year

KUALA LUMPUR: The US$8 billion (RM25.07 billion) Kuala Lumpur International Financial District (KLIFD), to be jointly developed by 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development Corporation, will get off the ground early next year.

"The master plan is close to completion, we are working closely with City Hall to get the details ironed up," said its chief executive officer Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi.

The project, which is aimed at strengthening the country's position in the financial services sector, will be developed in phases on a 30.35ha piece of land in the Imbi area fronting Jalan Tun Razak.

"We want the development to be on an orderly basis and ensure that there are marketing benefits," he told Bernama in an interview.

Over the next six months, 1MDB will intensify talks with prospective investors and developers, he said, without revealing details.

The first phase would comprise a tower and several buildings, he added.

The projects in KLIFD are aimed at attracting cutting-edge technology along with promoting sustainable development via green technology, he said.

Such niche development requires huge investment and as a government-owned organisation, 1MDB has the strength and flexibility to execute it, he said.

He praised the incentives given to IMDB in the 2012 Budget, saying they came at the right time when work on the financial district was being intensified.

"We appreciate the government's commitment to KLIFD. It will ensure that we have the right sort of tenants, such as international banks and financial institutions," he said.

The incentives include a 100% income tax exemption for a period of 10 years and stamp duty exemption on loan and service agreements for KLIFD-status companies.

Others include Industrial Building Allowance and Accelerated Capital Allowance for KLIFD Marquee Status Companies, and 70% income tax exemption for a period of five years for property developers in KLIFD.

He said the level of commitment within KLIFD, the government and its officials is exemplary as "everybody has the same sense of urgency (given the importance and impact of the project)."

Such incentives would also attract developers to the development of KLIFD, despite the huge investments needed, he said.

Shahrol Azral, who graduated from Stanford University in the U.S. and has experienced the Silicon Valley lifestyle, said KLIFD would also have a similar concept, being not just about offices but a place where one can "hang-out" and network.

"KLIFD is all about building the nucleus for talent and innovation, which is also in line with the government's aim under the Economic Transformation Programme," he said.

1MDB takes a lot of effort to send the message across to the general public of the totally new concept of KLIFD, he said.

"We have a lot of programmes that involve the people and the younger generation, such as Dana Belia," he said.

Dana Belia, funded by Yayasan 1MDB, provides young people a platform to express their hopes, ideas and creativity through projects that promote unity.

Shahrol Azral, who is also an expert in value creation in multiple sectors, said he wants to maintain the "authenticity" of Malaysian culture — Malay, Chinese and Indian — in KLIFD.

"We have the diversity and that will be part and parcel of KLIFD, it won't just be some building blocks but more than that," he said. — Bernama

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