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Re-branding ‘Malaysia My Second Home Programme’ for economic spin-offs Print E-mail
Sunday, 29 March 2009 18:27

BAD times can be both a boon and bane. Challenges create opportunities and new initiatives like the government’s plan to revamp the ‘Malaysia My Second Home Programme (MM2H)’ to generate more economic spin-offs in the areas of investment and real estate.

MM2H started in 2004 basically to boost tourism by encouraging foreign senior citizens to apply for long stay, buy homes and cars. Apparently, that initiative has on the quiet proven rather successful with foreigners bringing in nearly RM5 billion over the past five years.

These statistics were revealed by Tourism Minister Datuk Azalina Othman earlier this week at an event in Kuala Lumpur on re-branding the programme.

According to her, MM2H participants within a space of five years have bought homes valued at RM4.72 billion and also nearly 1,500 locally-assembled cars.

And, yes, the programme’s momentum is picking up, and the ministry has rightly decided that the long-stay initiative should not be confined to just its ‘tourism value’ but should also now be better leveraged for economic benefits.

As such, the ministry’s re-branding of the MM2H includes positioning it “as an economic and investment generating initiative to attract high net worth individuals to set up businesses or joint ventures with local entrepreneurs”.

But how?

Participants can now ‘invest actively’ in Malaysia and those above 50 years old can work in critical sectors of the economy where locals lack the expertise or experience – subject to the approval of an expatriate committee.

Other key improvements include giving foreign spouses married to Malaysian citizens the option of staying in the country under the programme. Approved participants will be granted a 10-year social visit pass.

Malaysia appears to be making it easier for skilled and wealthy foreign nationals to obtain permanent residency because of the economic slump and competition from other markets.

The government anticipates foreign direct investments could plunge by half this year and the property sector, like most, has weakened as investors cash out or wait on the sidelines for the recovery.

Unlike more vibrant markets in the region, Kuala Lumpur also lacks a big pool of expatriates to occupy the many apartments coming up in the city.

To address some of these issues and accelerate the change to a knowledge economy, the government recently announced it would offer permanent resident status to high net worth individuals who bring more than US$2 million (RM7.2 million) into the country for investments or savings. The same consideration would be made for highly skilled foreign professionals.

The financial requirements for MM2H applicants are lower. Those below 50 years old are required to show proof of liquid assets worth at least RM500,000 while those older than 50 must have a minimum RM350,000.

In the main, the MM2H has attracted retirees, many drawn by the lower cost of living, food and English-speaking population.

Given the growing retiree population in Japan, Korea , Taiwan, US, Europe and China, Azalina said the programme would be intensified in some of these source countries.

A total of 12,566 foreign applicants have been given the nod as of end of last year. China topped the list with 2,231 participants followed by Bangladesh, the UK, Japan and Singapore.

Sarawak has its own programme, and perhaps, the same, if not better, terms could be offered to get senior citizens from many countries to apply for long stay initiatives and bring in money to spend on such things as homes and cars and even starting businesses either to be run on their own or with local partners.

Hopefully, steps will be taken to modify the state’s own MM2H programme or make changes where necessary to generate more economic spin-offs.

 

Source: http://www.mysarawak.org/2009/03/29/re-branding-%E2%80%98malaysia-my-second-home-programme%E2%80%99-for-economic-spin-offs.html



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