Monday, June 3, 2013

Kedah MB Reveals Transformation Plan to Shake Off Years of Sluggish Growth Under PAS

As we had predicted back in January, Kedah was the most likely of the Pakatan-controlled states to return to the BN fold. And on May 5, constituents voted for just that, tired of seeing their state growth grind to a halt under Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak.

In 2010 for example, when the Malaysian economy grew by over 7 per cent, Kedah's grew by 4.4 per cent. Things haven't much improved since. But a new State Government looks set to breathe new life into the local economy.

Kedah's newly installed Menteri Besar, Datuk Paduka Mukhriz Tun Mahathir, is wasting no time in making his presence felt, issuing stop orders on dubious land clearing activity implemented under PAS and drawing up a long term plan to get the state back on track.

Mukhriz has also drawn up a State Transformation Plan in order to pull in fresh investment. In addition to a major new boost to the tourism sector, the future of the Kedah is looking bright.

"The tourism sector is the second highest contributor to Kedah's gross national income (GNI) and we will see what can be done to boost the sector further," Mukhris said.

"For starters, we are working on attracting approximately RM5 billion in investments, while creating at least 4,200 new jobs for local islanders and boost tourist arrivals."

Last year tourism receipts in Langkawi alone amounted to around RM2.6 billion. The MB hopes that with the help of new State-Government backed schemes, that figure will be boosted to RM3.8 billion by 2015.

Elsewhere and the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) aims to achieve RM7 billion in investments on the island by year-end, beating the RM5 billion achieved last year.

"We have to push harder to realise our goal. It's not easy to achieve the target for Langkawi because of the stiff competition within the region from Bali and Phuket," he said.

"In order to be two or three steps ahead of them, we must think out of the box. We have to focus on quality tourists, not backpackers who don't really spend much. This happens in some other places too; they don't contribute too much."

This sort of pragmatism from a leader in Kedah has not been seen since prior to 2008. Locals have good reason to be optimistic.

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