OPENING REMARKS BY Y.A.B. TAN SRI DATUK SERI PANGLIMA MUSA HJ. AMAN, SABAH CHIEF MINISTER AND CHAIRMAN OF THE SABAH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT AUTHORITY AT THE 25TH MEMBERS OF AUTHORITY MEETING, 12th DECEMBER 2017, AT PERDANA UPEN, MEETING ROOM, WISMA SEDIA, KOTA KINABALU.
I wish to welcome all members of the Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority present this morning as we convene for the 25th meeting of Members of SEDIA.
I would like to draw the attention of members that the SDC Blueprint is now mid-way in its implementation cycle of 18 years, scheduled for completion in 2025. Next year on 29th January 2018, SDC will mark its ten years anniversary. It is therefore timely for SEDIA to take stock of the milestones it has covered, assess where are we now and take cognisance of new challenges, policies and plans.
The SDC Blueprint complemented the Halatuju Agenda of the Sabah State Government that I introduced in 2003. This agenda has now been superseded by the Sabah Leap while at national level, the government is laying the foundation for the TN50 agenda. I was informed that SEDIA will carry out a thorough review of the SDC Blueprint and will come up with a revision of the document in the form of SDC Blueprint v.2.0 that will note the changing development challenges, new development parameters and policies of the State and Federal Governments since the launch of SDC.
The launching of the Tanjung Aru Eco-Development, the expected completion in 2018 of the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) and the Sabah International Technology Centre (SITC) augur well for the tourism sector. Tourism in Sabah has grown with arrivals last year reaching 3.43 million visitors, the highest ever recorded in Sabah.
The upgrading of Sapangar Bay Container Port, the Air Freight and Aviation Masterplan Study, the Sabah Animation and Creative Centre, the Sabah Agro-Industrial Precinct as well as implementation of the Pan Borneo Highway will set the transformation agenda. Sabah is set to be one of the preferred destinations for investment in business, culture and nature in the East Asian region. The Pan Borneo Highway will enhance connectivity between the various economic clusters under SDC and the SDC Blueprint v.2.0 will identify new economic clusters and zones made possible by this development.
It is timely for SEDIA to undertake a thorough evaluation of SDC performance, targets, roles and priorities. To kick start this review process, SEDIA will organise a 10 Years SDC Carnival next month to showcase the various SDC projects involving the government, GLCs and the private sector. There will also be business opportunities and trading platform for investors, SMEs and start-ups, and one of the key components of the carnival is the National Economic Corridors Conference that seeks to share experiences and chart future direction and strategies for the economic corridors.
The SDC review is timely as the World Bank and OECD have recently been more optimistic on global economic growth. The OECD in particular is more upbeat and has forecasted the global economy to grow 3.5% this year and 3.6% in 2018, the fastest in six years. In line with the expected global economic recovery, Malaysia’s first quarter GDP growth this year had rebounded strongly to 5.6%.
Sabah is expected to maintain a stronger GDP growth rate of at least between 5 and 5.5 percent, as the world economy and commodity prices recover. This in turn will spur export sectors, especially the petrochemical and palm oil industries. The state’s economy is expected to continue benefitting from the services sub-sectors, especially tourism, construction and logistics. I am also pleased to share that the incidence of poverty in Sabah is on a downward trend. The 4% poverty incidence recorded in 2014 has continued to decline to 2.9 percent in 2016.
The 2018 Budget announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak last month is a comprehensive financial plan which has taken into account the needs of Sabah. The budget includes allocations for Pan Borneo Highway, repairs for dilapidated schools, affordable housing and rural infrastructure in Sabah and a feasibility study on the construction of a bridge connecting Labuan and Sabah. This reflects the level of commitment towards addressing issues regarding regional imbalance, which is the very reason for the establishment of the economic corridors, including SDC.
I note that RM2.3 billion has been channelled by the Federal Government for SDC projects under the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Malaysia Plans as at 30 November 2017. A total of RM2.1 billion, or 92.6 percent has been disbursed. A sum of RM163.75 billion in cumulative investments has been recorded since the launch of the SDC of which RM62.82 billion has been realised.
The emphasis under SDC is very much in line with the agenda of the Sabah Government. The development allocation under the Sabah State Budget I tabled last month focuses on the development of the economic sector, followed by social and administrative sectors. We are committed to continuously strengthen the development of rural areas, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, human capital and the people’s well-being.
The importance of developing entrepreneurship and SMEs has also been highlighted in the State and Federal Budget for 2018. It is absolutely important for SEDIA to continue highlighting investment opportunities both for the larger investors and for smaller ones including SMEs. The Department of Statistics had revealed in September that at constant 2010 prices, the value added by SMEs rose to RM405.6 billion in 2016 compared to RM385.6 billion in 2015.
SEDIA also seeks to promote e-commerce access for local entrepreneurs through the launching of the SDC Entrepreneurs Business Portal, or SDCBiz link. The SDCBiz link, will allow SDC investors and entrepreneurs, especially SMEs and Start-ups under the SDC Incubator programme to trade seamlessly online. As at October 31, there are 203 incubatees under SDC entrepreneurship development programmes, of which 99 have had their fund applications approved.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate SEDIA on having recently been awarded a five star rating by the Auditor General under the Accountability Index for its financial management. Efforts are underway to ensure that the 2017 financial management maintains the same level of integrity as in the past seven years. SEDIA’s financial management for the year 2016 has also been given a clean bill of health. I am also pleased to note that SEDIA has continuously enhanced its Management System and was certified under the MS ISO 9001:2015 recently.
To conclude, I would like to extend my appreciation to all Members of the Authority, members of the various SEDIA committees, as well as management and staff of SEDIA for the continued successful implementation of SDC programmes.
I was also informed that today SEDIA will be launching the SEDIA Annual Report 2016 and the MS ISO 9001:2015 Certification. Congratulations! Thank you.