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The importance of regional development policy for national development cannot be overstress. It is important for the growth potentials that would help promote sustainable growth of the national economy through a more rational population distribution, increased employment opportunities and enhanced productivity.

Economists believe the drivers to regional growth have changed dramatically over the past decade.

Regions now grow when they gain a competitive edge in rapidly changing global markets.

Within this new context, a region’s capacity to innovate and its ability to grow entrepreneurs are key to success.

Regional development concepts and strategies saw various evolutions and the relevance of these have been challenged in recent years by the new economic geography that has emerged in view of globalization.

Malaysia regional development policies are based on overlaps among income and welfare differences, occupational structures differences, and differences in languages, religion, and culture.

Because of such overlaps, it is crucial for the government to consider these factors before making any national economic or social policy.

Regional development planning has been carried out for a long time in Malaysia. As early as the First Malaysia Plan (1966-70), regional planning has been a major strategy in national development. During that time the strategy carried out mainly on rural development.

Regional development strategy drew and built upon the strength of each region or state, with the fundamental aim achieving fair distribution not only income but also health facilities, education, utilities, services, recreation, housing and opportunities for social and economic improvement of the people in accordance with the goals set.

The strategies implemented in the different regions depend on the characteristics of the region, the major regional problem and also the potential for development.

Often times more than one strategy are implemented in a particular regional programme.

In an increasingly global and inter-connected economy, it is not just countries or states that compete with each other, but more so amongst cities. Vibrant, productive and liveable cities function as critical pivots to enable the economic corridors to attract and retain talent as well as businesses.

Recognising this, the Government implemented for five regional cities and economic corridors to propel the economic growth of the country.

These five regional cities and economic corridors namely Georgetown and the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER); Johor Bahru and Iskandar Malaysia, Kuantan and East Coast Economic Region (ECER); Kuching and Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE); and Kota Kinabalu and Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).

It is hoped that these Regional Cities and Economic Corridors Transformation will take the development achieved to-date to the next level to build out regional and global hubs in their economic areas of specialization.

By adopting a cohesive approach to the progressive development of the five regional cities economic corridors, Malaysia will enjoy much stronger economic growth as a nation.

By coordinating execution and monitoring, our aim to achieve high-income nation status will not only be achievable and sustainable but will also be inclusive, enabling all Malaysians in all regions to enjoy a high quality of life.

This is the very essence of the 1Malaysia, People First, Performance Now concept.

During the Ninth Malaysia Plan, the Federal Government embarked on a number of initiatives to promote balanced regional development and accelerate growth in designated geographic areas.

The 10th Malaysia Plan built on the Ninth Malaysia Plan by prioritising and accelerating the development of urban conurbations focusing on five corridors, in addition to the Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley development.

Each corridor consists of high-density clusters with sectoral and geographical advantages.

Clustering enables businesses to benefit from common resources, facilitate labour market matching and contributes to knowledge sharing.

The Regional Cities and Economic Corridors Transformation Programmes will not only examine current issues but also chart the future development of key secondary cities like Georgetown, Johor Bahru, Kuantan, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

These secondary cities will complement the development of Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley, one of the 12 National Key Economic Areas under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

Initiatives and intentions announced, such as the Greater Penang Transformation Programme, will be integrated into the respective regional transformation programme.

The Regional Cities and Economic Corridors Transformation Programmes will build on the existing programmes including the 10th Malaysia Plan, ETP, Government Transformation Programme as well as the respective regional economic corridors and state programmes.

Info on The Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) :

ETP is a focused, inclusive and sustainable initiative that will transform Malaysia into a high-income nation by 2020. It is driven by 12 National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs): Oil, Gas and Energy; Palm Oil; Financial Services; Wholesale and Retail; Tourism; Business Services; Electrical and Electronics; Communications Content and Infrastructure; Healthcare; Education; Agriculture; and Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley.

131 entry point projects (EPPs) have been clearly outlined within these sectors to grow our economy. These Entry Point Projects (EPPs) within the National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs) will lead Malaysia towards achieving a high-income nation status with a per capita income of RM48, 000 (USD15, 000) and create more than 3.3 million new jobs by 2020, throughout the country.

Source: PEMANDU, Philippine Institute for Development Studies & the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

-SNASH-

(this article written for 1BINA.my)