LUMUT, Sept 15 — The Northern Corridor Investment Authority (NCIA) expects the Northern Corridor Economic Region’s (NCER) economy to grow by RM300 billion through initiatives outlined in the newly-launched Strategic Development Plan 2021-2025 (SDP).
Through the SDP, the northern region is projected to create more than 160,000 new jobs and over 42,000 entrepreneurs, while the cumulative investment is forecast to grow to RM146.5 billion.
However, the target is expected to be delayed by two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In terms of the GDP (gross domestic product), we will have a two-year delay. Originally, we expected the GDP to be achieved by 2025, but now we expect to reach the target of RM300 billion GDP by 2027,” NCIA chief executive officer Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John told Bernama and TV3 in an interview here.
Up to July this year, the NCIA has achieved RM115.9 billion in cumulative realised investments and created over 140,000 jobs in the NCER.
Between 2008 and July 2020, the NCIA has drawn total committed investment of RM120.2 billion and total cumulative jobs of 149,029.
Jebasingam said the SDP covers all four states in the northern region and comprises programmes to create new jobs through private investments and infrastructure projects by the government.
“In this development plan, we take into account the implications and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We know the problem of unemployment, the woes faced by small and medium enterprises and so on,” he said.
The SDP was presented to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who chaired the 23rd NCIA meeting, which was attended by the four menteris besar, Minister in Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz and two representatives from the private sector.
To mitigate the impact of the ongoing pandemic in the region, the NCIA has also mobilised its post-COVID-19 plan in the SDP with efforts already underway to create jobs and boost economic activities in the NCER.
Some mitigation strategies include capitalising on outflows of foreign direct investment from Far Eastern countries such as China and Japan, focusing on incentivising domestic direct investment, developing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to restart the local economy, and providing attractive industry-based customised incentives.
Apart from that, the NCIA has also customised two fast track programmes from the programmes known as [email protected] and [email protected] that are anchored on reskilling and upskilling, followed by soft skills training to enable immediate marketability of job seekers and competitiveness of micro-businesses.
“Our investment value is expected to be at least RM10 billion annually in the northern region and it is expected to create at least 5,000 jobs during this period. It will not only provide new job opportunities but also be able to rehire retrenched employees through the JomKerja and Talent Enhancement Programme,” said Jebasingam.
Among the greenfield sectors that the NCIA aims to tap into are pharmaceutical and medical device, as well as e-commerce and gig economy, while strengthening sectors like electrical and electronics (E&E) by enhancing talent incentives.
“E&E is a sector that will grow in the industrial sector, as well as agri-business. What is problematic is in terms of tourism and logistics,” he added.
To further drive the recovery of the economies of the NCER states, the NCIA will implement catalytic infrastructure projects such as the Northern Corridor Highway spanning about 140 kilometres connecting Sungai Petani, Batu Kawan and Changkat Jering, as well as to providing connectivity to the West Coast Expressway.
This alternative highway network is a catalyst for development in the NCER, providing connectivity and accessibility, especially in rural and underdeveloped areas.
In Perlis, the Chuping Valley Industrial Area, Perlis Inland Port and Chuping Agro Valley projects will play an essential role in elevating the cross-border trade between Malaysia and Thailand.
As for ongoing human capital programmes, specifically the empowerNCER, entrepreneurNCER, NCER Talent Enhancement Programme and Dana Usahawan Bumiputera have been enhanced to focus on target groups affected by the pandemic, especially in the B40 category (bottom 40 per cent of the household income group) by providing opportunities for job placement or entrepreneurship.
To date, these programmes have cumulatively benefitted over 15,500 participants. In the long run, these programmes will provide the required workforce and talent to service the industry and support the growth of private sector investment.
For Perak, the NCIA is spearheading the development of the Silver Valley Technology Park and Ipoh Heritage Tourism projects in Ipoh, as well as facilitating the expansion of the Lumut Port in Manjung and the growth of Tanjung Malim Auto Hub in Tanjung Malim.
The NCIA is also supporting the development of Pangkor Island as a duty-free Island through the development and implementation of the Pangkor Duty-Free Island Strategic Implementation Plan.