KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng today said the proposed special financial zone (SFZ) in Penang can put the state back in the top five of approved investments in Malaysia.
The Bagan MP said Penang has dropped out of the top five states for the first half of two consecutive years in 2022 and 2023 due to the lack of investments in the services sector and declining manufacturing investments resulting from Penang’s depleting industrial land bank.
“Even Kedah is in the top five due to its large industrial land bank and close proximity to Penang.
“An SFZ for Penang similar to that announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for Johor Baru will help to boost the services sector in Penang and reverse the declining trend of approved investments,” he said in a statement.
The former finance minister said the Penang state government and its people, regardless of political affiliation, must come together to apply for Federal government approval of an SFZ for Penang in the coming 2024 Budget.
According to the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida), Malaysia has attracted a total of RM132.6 billion (US$28.3 billion) worth of approved investments from January to June this year.
Lim said these investments in the services (RM82.4 billion), manufacturing (RM44.9 billion) and primary sectors (RM5.3 billion) involve 2,651 projects and are expected to create 51,853 job opportunities.
“Mida said the 2,651 projects approved from these investments in the first half of 2023 represent an increase of 34.8 per cent compared to the first six months of 2022.
“There is no doubt that the services sector will be the primary source of approved investments in the future for Malaysia, comprising 62 per cent of total approved investments,” he said.
The top five states that have recorded significant investment value to the total approved investments are Kuala Lumpur (RM31.7 billion), Selangor (RM29.7 billion), Kedah (RM14.6 billion), Johor (RM14.2 billion) and Sabah (RM9.0 billion).
On Sunday, Lim said that everyone in Penang, including Opposition members, should support securing federal government approval for the SFZ for a boost to Penang’s economic development and sustainability.
On September 13, Lim made the proposal on Wednesday while debating the mid-term review of the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) in Dewan Rakyat.
On August 25, Anwar announced that the government would create an SFZ in Forest City, Johor by providing certain incentives to lower the cost of doing business in multiple sectors like tourism, education and health. Anwar, who is also the finance minister, said the SFZ aims to boost investment, growth, and economic activities in the state of Johor.