Awang Tengah with then Sarawak CM Taib Mahmud

Awang Tengah with then Sarawak CM Taib Mahmud

KUCHING, Nov 21 (Bernama)– Sarawak attracted RM11.76 billion worth of investments for the period of January to September this year, the second highest after Johor (RM30 billion), said Sarawak Minister of Industrial Development Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan.

He said Sarawak has consistently performed well over the past four years as among the top four preferred investment destinations in Malaysia.

“This success is only made possible through political stability and efficient government where investors have confidence in our top leadership as well as our ability to provide the necessary infrastructure and support,” said Awang Tengh, who is also Sarawak Second Minister of Resources Planning and Environment.

Speaking at the Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (SCCI) 64th annual dinner here last night graced by Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem, Awang Tengah said besides attracting big foreign investors, the state will continue to support the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through various incentives and initiatives.

He said the state government has developed many industrial parks throughout the state, adding that under the 11th Malaysia Plann new industrial estates will be developed in smaller towns such as Lundu, Betong, Sri Aman, Sebuyau, Marudi and Bau to support local SMEs.

“We hope that there will be at least one industrial park developed in every district, especially in the rural towns in line with the vision of the Chief Minister to accelerate the development of rural regions under his “go rural policy”, he said.

SMEs form the backbone of Sarawak’s economy, accounting for 98 per cent of the total business establishments, and as engines of growth, they must be able to maximise the state’s comparative advantages and leverage on the latest technology and innovation so as to remain competitive globally, he said.

“The government can only create a conducive environment for business to flourish, but the local business communities must be proactive to grab these opportunities, otherwise you will be left behind,” he added.

He said the state government’s development initiatives include the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), which aims to accelerate the state’s economic growth and development towards achieving high income and developed state status.

Twenty projects worth over RM30 billion have been approved in SCORE, the majority of which are located at Samalaju Industrial Park (SIP) in Bintulu, he said.

Awang Tengah said the oil and gas sector continues to be the major contributor to the economy of Sarawak and Malaysia, adding that apart from the ASEAN Bintulu Fertiliser (ABF) plant that produces ammonia and urea, most of the oil and gas exported from Sarawak are in a raw form.

He said Sarawak has an abundance of oil and gas and Bintulu has the associated facilities such as a deep sea port and LNG complexes, and it is therefore logical that Bintulu be developed into a thriving petrochemical hub not only for this region but globally.

“Sarawak can no longer be just bystanders in the oil and gas industry. In fact the people of Sarawak, particularly the business communities, are increasingly demanding to have more opportunities to participate in our state’s oil and gas industry.

“The state government is fully aware of the sentiment of the rakyat in wanting to be active participants in the oil and gas industry, and under the leadership of Adenan will continue to negotiate with the federal government for a larger share of natural gas for the development of our downstream petrochemical industry, apart from seeking higher royalty for oil and gas,” he said.

Awang Tengah urged the state’s business community to be fully prepared for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and seize the opportunities made available by the AEC, whose combined population of 625 million holds great potential for trade and commerce.

The combined economies of the 10 ASEAN nations, he said, will make it a major economic power house as the fifth largest economy after the European Union (EU), USA, China and Japan.