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News: Iskandar Atracts RM64.38bil Investments, Makes Significant Progress Despite Challenges

A total of RM37.26bil or 58% of the the total investments up to September was from domestic investors and the balance by foreign companies.

Of the total, RM25.65bil is invested in the services sector, RM12.81bil in the tourism sector, RM19.64bil in properties and RM6.28bil in the public sector.

Puteri Habour is a project in Iskandar that is initiated by the private sector – Bernama

So far, RM26.89bil or 41.85% of the total investment has been spent on developing projects in the region.

Sprawling over 2,217 sq km in the southern-most part of Johor three times the size of Singapore Iskandar is divided into five flagship development zones.

They are the JB City Centre, Nusajaya, Eastern Gate Development, Eastern Gate Development, Western Gate Development and Senai-Skudai.

The development of Iskandar was spearheaded by the public sector with several infrastructure projects such as the construction of roads, road improvement and widening projects, river cleaning and public housing. These projects are either completed or are to be ready within the next two years.

The private sector initiative projects currently under construction include Asia’s first Legoland Malaysia Theme Park, Newcastle University of Medicine Malaysia, Malaysia Premium Outlet, Indoor Theme Park @ Puteri Harbour, Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studio and Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology. These developments are due for launch in one or two years.

The projects mentioned are few of many more components of developments planned for Iskandar in its quest to transform itself into a strong and sustainable metropolis of international standing in line with its Comprehensive Development Plan 2006-2025.

Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) and the Government-backed investment holding company Iskandar Investment Bhd (IIB) are the two bodies that have been tasked to promote and develop Iskandar.

IRDA is the regulatory body mandated to plan, promote and facilitate the development of Iskandar and IIB to drive commercial initiatives within Iskandar via joint ventures or contribution of land.

IIB, formerly known as South Johor Investment Corp was formed on Nov 3, 2006 with Khazanah Nasional Bhd holding 60% equity and the Employees Provident Fund and Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor each with 20% stake.

Initially, Iskandar stakeholders focused mostly on foreign investors especially from the Middle East, lured mainly by the huge petrodollars of the Arab nations.

However, certain quarters in Malaysia were unhappy with the strategies, claiming that Iskandar had neglected potential investors from China, India, Indonesia and Singapore.

With the US subprime crisis and the financial crises in Dubai and Europe in 2008 and 2009, Iskandar stakeholders made several changes to their strategies to attract investors.

These included paying more attention to local investors and organising more roadshows to attract investors from Asia, especially Singapore, China, India and Indonesia.

The improvement in bilateral ties between Malaysia and Singapore also provided opportunities for Iskandar to attract more Singaporean investors, who previously were reluctant to invest in a big way in Johor.

The change has also been significantly driven by statements made by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his counterpart Lee Hsien Loong on the need for both countries to work closely for mutual economic benefits.

This is reflected in the involvement of Malaysia and Singapore’s investment arms, Khazanah and Temasek Holdings Ltd, to jointly develop an iconic wellness township project in a 50:50 joint venture at Danga Bay Waterfront site in Iskandar.

It is not, however, smooth sailing for the authorities overseeing Iskandar.

IRDA had changed guards three times since its inception in 2006. IIB, meanwhile, received a new president and CEO Datuk Syed Mohamed Syed Ibrahim on Nov 1 when Khazanah decided not to extend his predecessor Arlida Arif’s contract, which ended on Dec 31.

Monday, 03 January 2011
Source: The Star