The state of Perak is known for its abundant natural resources, be they above ground or underground.
Perak’s advantages have been its rainfall, rivers, fertile land, timber resources, minerals, agriculture, geographical location and human capital, which have collectively contributed to the state’s prosperity.
However, following the changes in the external environment and commercial climate, the state’s economy has since deteriorated.
In conjunction with the publication of “Perak Biz-Route, Invest and Trade Special Edition,” the Perak Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (PCCCI) conducted an interview with Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr. Zambry Abdul Kadir on the macroscopic economic development of the state as well as his administration directions and commercial activities in the state. The following are some of the gist of the interview:
The breathtakingly beautiful state of Perak with its vast land and natural resources, used to be one of the world’s most important tin mining areas while the state capital Ipoh is the fourth largest city in the country.
In 2015, the state has leaped forward to become a developed state boasting the 3Qs–Quality Opportunity, Quality Life and Quality Income. Business opportunities abound in the state, as it begins to emerge as a new favorite destination among local and foreign investors.
This “Silver State” known for its exceptional living and investment conditions, has benefited in recent years thanks to its proximity to its two more prosperous neighboring states of Penang and Selangor. With the concerted effort of the federal and state governments, several major economic revitalization programs have been introduced, including the Northern Corridor Economic Zone (NCER), spearheading the growth of Perak as one of the top five export trade hubs in the country.
The state’s enviable growth and business-friendly environment have been the outcome of the wisdom and resolution of farsighted Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr. Zambry Abdul Kadir who has reactivated several dormant government institutions in the state over the past six years in innovating the ambitious Perak Amanjaya masterplan. Together with the full cooperation from the federal government, this has helped the state catch up with other more prosperous states.
Zambry has reignited the engines of economic and even humanitarian development of the state, luring more investors from near and far to set up their manufacturing bases here, or coming here for business or leisure.
The development of Perak over the past few years has been phenomenal. Other than its vast land and natural resources, Perak has also benefited from the national-level development initiatives, economic corridors and industrial transformation programs implemented by the federal government
8 engines of growth
Under the economic transformation program, Perak has identified eight major sectors as growth engines of the state’s economic development, namely tourism, agriculture, education, maritime engineering and shipbuilding, renewable energy, value added manufacturing, creative and innovative sector as well as minerals and quarry.
Datuk Seri Zambry says the largest contributors in the state’s manufacturing industry have been electronic components, plastic, non-metallic minerals and vegetable oils and fats. Meanwhile, secondary manufacturing sub-sectors such as automobile assembly, metallic products, plastic products, toys and games have also demonstrated impressive growth prospects.
He also says due to the importance of metals and the fact that Manjung is home to a major steel distribution hub in the region, Perak holds good prospects to be developed into a major metal and automobile industrial hub. The authorities have been looking into this seriously and has been integrating the various R&D efforts of local universities and laboratories in a bid to stimulate R&D activities of this particular sector.
Zambry says agriculture has also made significant contribution towards the economy of the state, with rice, tropical fruits, coconut and vegetables being the major crops. Fishing and aquaculture are two agricultural sub-sectors that hold a lot of promises for future development. As for husbandry, poultry and pig farming has also contributed significantly towards the state’s economy.
He admits that it is of utmost importance to energize investment activities in the state while improving the synergistic cooperation between the plantation owners and manufacturers. Under the seventh key result area of Perak Amanjaya, the state government will further strengthen agricultural production in the state as well as good manufacturing practices in livestock and fishing industries.
The Perak state government has identified the tourism industry as one that will create more lucrative income and job opportunities for the residents of the state. Zambry says Perak is well endowed with a plethora of unique tourist attractions scattered all over the state.
The state tourism development corporation has finalized a list of high quality and symbolic tourist attractions in the state, including Pulau Pangkor, Taiping Lake Gardens, Bukit Merah Laketown, Teluk Batik Resort and Rural Transformation Center.
He says the state must harness the natural gifts of Kinta Valley, such as limestone hills and caves, as well as Lata Kinjang waterfall which can be seen from the North-South Highway. These have good potentials to turn the state of Perak into an exciting adventure land for tourists.
Where economic and geographical environment is concerned, Perak boasts a number of advantages:
- Strategic location between Klang Valley and Penang, which are two major economic hubs of the country.
- Diversified natural resources such as Lime Stone, Dolomite, Granite, Ball Clay, Kaolin, Mica, Silica (sand/rock), Feldspar, Barite.
- Relatively low price of land/cost of doing business and living expenses.
- Strong base in natural resources-based industries that can be expanded to the manufacture of high-end products, such as Quicklime, rubber products, clay and silica.
Zambry says the state government has also been systematically protecting the mangrove forests in the state. Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve has been under systematic preservation since 1902 and is considered one of the best managed mangrove forests in the world.
The 40,000-hectare Matang Mangrove Forest was gazetted as a Permanent Forest Reserve in 1906. It is an important habitat for migratory water fowls and some migratory forest birds. As many as 43,000 to 85,000 birds can be spotted in the mangrove forest during the migratory season.
RM50 billion industrial cake
Perak is setting its sights for the manufacturing industry and related services to contribute 25% to the state GDP by 2020, or about RM12.73 billion out of the total output of RM50.88 billion at an annual growth rate of 8%.
Zambry says the economy of Perak expanded at a rate of 7.1% in 2012 contributed mainly by the development of Iron Ore Distribution Center by VALE in Teluk Rubiah. In 2013, the growth rate was at 5.3%, with the Iron Ore Distribution Center once again a major contributor to this growth.
Other than the RM980 million investments approved in the manufacturing industry in 2011, the Iron Ore Distribution Center by VALE was also approved within the same year. The RM4.5 billion investment was put under the manufacturing-related services category.
The state government is also actively revitalizing industrial land use activities in a bid to lure more investment funds into Perak and train the local skilled workers into more efficient, skilled and competent workforce that will effectively tackle the demands and competition from the outside world.
RM5.6 billion high tech industrial park
Meru Raya is a major township development project undertaken by Perak Corporation Berhad, a unit of Perak State Development Corporation. With a gross development value of RM5.6 billion, the project is slated to be fully developed by 2020.
The new township will see many state government departments moving in. Meanwhile, the state government is also actively carrying out infrastructural works and relevant facilities towards the goal of a high-income state under the Perak Amanjaya development masterplan.
Zambry says the state has seen significant turnaround in its economic development since 2009. For instance, Meru Raya, part of the Perak high tech industrial park initiative, registered exceptional performance in development activities.
“Bandar Meru Raya will be the statement of a new modern high tech lifestyle as we vision it to be in the near future. And there will be more similar initiatives to be developed such as Bandar Tasik Amanjaya in Batu Gajah.”
The Perak Hi Tech Industrial Park is designed on an integrated development approach on promoting niche industries such as Bio Technology, R&D, Center of Excellence, Automation and Robotic with emphasis on high technology production.
Developed on 828 acres of land, this industrial park is to become the catalyst for the economic development in the state and is expected to contribute positively to the investment essentials of the state and the country. It will provide a safe and exciting for investors in all related industries. The industrial Park is also expected to promote the transfer of new technology into Perak so as to encourage innovation and R&D in new and emerging industries.
Five special economic zones
Under the regional economic transformation program, five special economic zones have been identified based on their respective strengths:
Beriah Valley: Redevelopment of Alor Pongsu
Hulu Perak: Belum Rainforest Tourism Infrastructure
Kinta Valley: New administrative center (Bandar Meru Raya), Bandar Tasik Aman Jaya
Manjung: Pangkor redevelopment, Marina Island Pangkor’s International Resort and Entertainment extension project
Ulu Bernam: Reviving Proton City project, Sungkai Defense and Security Technology Park.
|Domestic Direct Investment (RM mil)||1,393.0||894.9||688.9>||871.7||1,320.5|
|Foreign Direct Investment (RM mil)||1,646.7||90.0||1,592.1||1,489.5||1,320.5|
|TOTAL INVESTMENTS (RM mil)||3,039.7||984.9||2,281.0||2,361.2||1,707.9|