The proposed RM1 billion allocation for the Regional Corridor Authorities announced in the Budget 2018 has reaffirmed the importance of regional development, the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) said.

The initiatives announced in the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) is a clear indication of the momentum that has been created under the NCER Blueprint 2.0, according to NCIA chief executive Datuk Redza Rafiq.

He said following the Federal Government’s decision to include the whole of Perak into NCER last year, NCIA had supported Perak government’s initiative to develop Wilayah Perak Selatan (WPS) to form a new growth area for NCER.

He said to this end, NCIA was excited at the prospects of leveraging on the strength of the southern region of the state.

“Plans have been drawn up to implement WPS. The announcement on the three initiatives in WPS is a clear indication of the importance placed by the government in developing the southernmost area of the NCER.

“NCIA looks forward to implement these new initiatives as part of its Growth Node strategy,” he said today.

Redza said along with the recently announced Special Tax Incentives for the NCER, NCIA was pleased that infrastructure and connectivity continued to be the nation’s priority in Budget 2018.

He said the announcement on the upgrading of the Langkawi and Penang airports, and the enhanced connectivity between Banting to Taiping, would take things to the next level in the NCER.

“The Bukit Kayu Hitam Special Border Economic Zone (SBEZ) in Bukit Kayu Hitam shall complement the various infrastructure and connectivity as well as border trade initiatives in NCER.

“This catalytic development will transform Bukit Kayu Hitam to be a regional centre for logistics and trading, and create a new economic growth centre in NCER.

“The establishment of the SBEZ will serve to catalyse the participation of local and foreign investors, and will create a new economic catalyst in the border area, providing job and business opportunities that leverage on the logistics throughout,” he added.

Redza said the announcements relating to the areas of agriculture and tourism, including the much awaited declaration of Pangkor as a tax-free island had given the respective sectors a cause for excitement.

“This is in line with NCER’s initiatives in modernising the agriculture sector as well as developing and promoting NCER as a top tourist destination, to support the Visit Malaysia Year in 2020 as announced in the Budget,” he said.

He also pointed to the manufacturing sector in NCER which had experienced a steady growth, contributing significantly to Malaysia’s gross domestic products (GDP) and foreign direct investment (FDI).

“To exemplify, NCER has managed to record a year-on-year growth of 83 per cent in approved manufacturing investments in the first half of this year.

“The sector is shifting towards Industry 4.0, and NCER is the ideal platform to capitalise on this industrial evolution.

“Hence, NCIA is pleased that Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing continue to be the focus especially in supporting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in embracing the fourth industrial revolution,” he said, adding that the various initiatives set out to support entrepreneurship and human capital development are also welcomed as these will positively support NCIA’s efforts in this area.

“The path for us in 2018 has been set and NCIA looks forward to step up its efforts to enhance the region’s ecosystem to generate inclusive economic growth while creating positive spillover benefits for the rakyat,” he said.

Overall, he said Budget 2018 was an inclusive, people-friendly budget that was also fiscally responsible, with the government’s underlying continued commitment towards fiscal consolidation, targeting three per cent for 2017 and 2.8 per cent by 2018.

“The government has continued with its

structured developmental programmes to ensure that the nation continues with its momentum of development based on the framework set out in the Dasar Transformasi Nasional, riding on an effective delivery system.

“So we are not just talking about growth, but quality growth, as Budget 2018 seeks to create a concrete economic base to take the last lap for us to become a high income nation by the year 2020,” he added.