The Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) development programme is a Government initiative to accelerate economic growth and elevate income levels in the north of Peninsular Malaysia – encompassing the states of Perlis, Kedah, Pulau Pinang and the north of Perak. The NCER initiative will span from 2007 to the end of the 12th Malaysia Plan period (2025).
The objectives behind the NCER initiative are:
- i. Part of the Government’s commitment to helping the Region maximise its economic potential and closing the development and income gap between the different regions in Malaysia.
- Aims to move towards higher value-add and knowledge-based economic activities to drive further increases in per capita income.
The overall theme for the Northern Corridor initiative is increasing value adds from existing industries, emphasising transformation and expansion of the agricultural, manufacturing, tourism and logistics sectors in the Region.
The Northern Region has the potential to be at the forefront of the transformation of Malaysia’s agricultural sector, embracing commercial-scale farming and the latest technologies to become a modernised food zone, increasing exports of premium fresh and processed agricultural products and helping Malaysia to meet its food self-sufficiency objectives in staple foods such as rice.
This region also the home to one of the most important sectors of the economy, electrical & electronics (E&E) sector.
NCER initiative will accelerate the sector’s move towards higher value-add activities such as design and R&D.
Key tourism assets such as Langkawi and Pulau Pinang will be enhanced to attract higher-yielding tourists, thereby increasing per capita tourist spending and the size of the tourism industry in the Region.
NCER initiative will also seek to develop new industries in the Region, such as the cultivation of new commercial crops and the promotion of downstream activities in the agricultural sector, the promotion of new manufacturing activities such as biotechnology, sustainable materials and oil and gas, and the leveraging of the NCER’s well-established transport infrastructure and geographical proximity to Thailand and Sumatera to become the processing, logistics and trade centre for the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT).
Government in developing the NCER has introduced several incentives namely :
Financial incentives are designed to encourage companies to undertake promoted activities in the NCER include:
- i. soft loans
- ii. grants
- iii. venture capital funding
- iv. flexible land lease arrangements at the discretion of the State Governments and
- v. fiscal incentives.
- Non-financial incentives
Among the planned non-financial incentives are:
• Waiver of the need to meet certain Government guidelines/requirements.
• Fast track the processing of licences and work permits for Malaysian doctors returning from overseas and foreign medical expertise
• Assistance and incentives in obtaining international standards accreditation.
For the agricultural sector, there are two (2) sets of funding and incentive packages:
- NCER Agro-preneur Incentive Package
– to enable trained and experienced agronomists to set up modern farming SMEs.
- NCER Commercial Agriculture Incentive Package
– to encourage large corporations to undertake promoted agricultural activities.
For the manufacturing sector, the NCER Manufacturing Industries Incentive Package available to promote zones in manufacturing sub-sectors in the NCER.
The incentive package aims to encourage investments in new areas such as biotechnology and agribusiness, and encourage existing industries such as the E&E to move up the value chain.
For Tourism Development Incentive Package, programmes implementation are to ensure consistent supply of quality medical and healthcare professionals as well as to encourage healthcare facilities to obtain accreditation.
For this, the incentives include fiscal incentives, provision of key infrastructure and waiver from meeting certain Government requirements.
Various projects are being implemented on a pilot basis, including the Amali Agro Entrepreneur Centre in Kampung Bukit Kura, Kedah, which is aimed at promoting agriculture on a commercial basis.
The project showcases the integrated agricultural concept, with the activities ranging from planting, chicken rearing to marketing.
A pilot project under the SawahKU Maju programme, which involves an area of 81 hectares in Gunung Semanggol, Perak, with the aim of increasing padi production by eight to 10 tonnes per hectare.
For manufacturing, the government was implementing an excellence centre programme in the Penang Free Industrial Zone to raise the capability of engineering graduates to meet the needs of investors in the electronics industry, with the operations expected to start end of this year.
The government also developing Taman Teknologi Pauh in Perlis, an area of 30.3 hectares, with the aim of diversifying sources of economic growth and job opportunities.
For the tourism sector, he said a master plan has been prepared to develop the Belum tropical forest in Temenggor, Perak, with priority given to conservation of the rich natural resources.
Under NCER initiatives, Taiping, Perak will be develop as a heritage tourism town and with a special allocation for the Safari Taiping programme.
Government also developing the Edu Citi-Tel pilot project to provide integrated hostel facilities in Taiping for Standard Five and Six pupils from families in rural areas and with low income.
NCER to date (January 2012) received some RM9.9 billion in private sector investments last year, up 62.8% from RM6.08 billion committed in 2010 achieved on the back of new investments from the agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and logistics sectors surpassed its target of RM6.67 billion.
Since January 2010, investments in the NCER are estimated to have created 26,267 jobs and business opportunities.
(this article written for 1BINA.my)