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Making Penang a pearl again Print E-mail
Saturday, 24 January 2009 21:30

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng will implement infrastructure projects this year that will unlock the value of state-owned land and equip the state with WiFi and WiMAX to generate revenue for the state during the current economic downturn.

He said for example, the second bridge, when completed, would enhance the value of the state land in Batu Kawan.

“We have also put in place local authorities that can fast-track the approval of necessary development projects needed to ‘unlock’ the value of the land,” Lim told StarBiz.

Penang derives about about RM350mil revenue annually, largely from land-related transactions.

Since 2009 would be a slow year for the manufacturing sector, Lim said emphasis would be on restoring Penang as a premier holiday destination and establishing it as an education hub.

”We have already written to the Federal Government for a RM200mil soft loan to preserve the state’s heritage buildings.

”The plans for tourism projects and an education hub this year would be announced later,” he said.

Penang was recently named one of the top Asian islands in Travel & Leisure’s 2008 World Best Awards, one of the world’s leading travel magazines.

In 2007, the services sector and the manufacturing sector contributed about 57% and 40% respectively to Penang’s gross domestic product.

The planned education hub would ensure that Penang continued to produce quality professionals for the services industry, Lim said, adding: ”We want our investors to know Penang as a state with highly qualified professionals, such as doctors and accountants.”

In two years, he said, Penang would be the first state with free WiFi services and WiMAX services at affordable rates.

”The wireless infrastructure would enhance Penang’s competitive edge, making it more attractive as a choice destination for foreign investments,” he said.

Recently, Packet One Networks (M) Sdn Bhd announced that it would invest RM25mil to RM30mil to roll out the first phase of its WiMAX broadband project in Penang, which would be completed by end-2009.

Lim said the state government would also focus on establishing the halal food hub this year, as the global halal food market was estimated to be worth over RM1 trillion.

Last year, the Organisation of Islamic Conference had announced its recognition for the nation’s halal certification, making it possible for Malaysia to become a global halal food hub.

Lim said Penang would also work on attracting investments that were less affected by the global recession.

Under Lim’s helm, Penang had roped in investments totalling RM9.47bil.

”About RM4.6bil of the figure came from foreigners, which exceeded 2007’s RM3.1bil,” he said.

 

Source: TheStar



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