Local devt agencies urged to facilitate investment, be proactive

RECODA CEO Datuk Ismawi Ismuni (seventh right) presents a memento to Masing (eighth right) as others look on.

KAPIT, Feb 26: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing believes state development agencies should get rid of red tape and be proactive when dealing with investors in order to attract investment.

He said this was because the world was getting smaller due to information technology.

“With information technology, the whole world is getting smaller and investors are getting more aggressive in looking for opportunities. When these investors approach URDA (Upper Rajang Development Agency), they are approaching other agencies in the world as well.”

“So when investors come a-knocking, it is my hope that the URDA can facilitate their investments by cutting red-tape, be proactive and provide the relevant information investors need.

“Only with that in mind can URDA make a difference to the livelihood of our people, increase their income, and create more jobs and business opportunities that can transform Upper Rajang into a vibrant economic area in the state,” said Masing while opening the three-day URDA Lab held here today.

Masing who is the chairman of URDA expressed his appreciation for the setting up of URDA and stressed that it was indeed timely that people of Upper Rajang have the agency to depend on to spearhead the development of Hulu Rajang.

Participants at the URDA Lab in Kapit which runs from Feb 26-28.

He also acknowledged the region’s size as a challenge when it came to development.

“The size of upper Rajang is no joke. Everyone of us can look at the data and say that it covers the whole of Kapit division, comprising the districts of Kapit, Bukit Mabong, Belaga, and Song, part of Sibu division, namely, the district of Kanowit and three parliamentary constituencies, namely, Hulu Rajang, Kapit and Kanowit.

“But in layman terms, the size of Upper Rajang at 41,000 sq kilometres is bigger than the whole of Pahang and represents 12 per cent in terms of land size for the whole of Malaysia. Developing that, ladies and gentlemen, is therefore not an easy task.”

“An area as vast as this comes with its challenge and assets. Upper Rajang is blessed with natural resources, such as hydropower, forests, vast tracks of land, well as biodiversity that has the potential to be developed further.

“As a result, we have this special URDA lab which looks at various sub-regions and their potential and needs and subsequently, will come up with development plans, programmes and projects accordingly,” said Masing who is also Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister.

He said the findings and recommendations of this special URDA lab would be critical, as the recommendations of the lab will be presented to the Regional Corridor Development Authority (RECODA) Board as basis for support and development funding.

He also cautioned that the government could plan and organise one lab after another; however, development would only come to Upper Rajang when all stakeholders and administrators work together hand-in-hand.

“In our endeavour to develop the Upper Rajang, we have to remember that URDA is a development agency. Plotting our strategies to develop the area is not enough, and will be wasted if all of us here do not facilitate development.

“To develop the area, we cannot depend on government funding alone. The modus operandi of investors coming to us, appealling to the board and waiting for investment opportunities no longer apply, to an extent.

“Upper Rajang is not the only place in the world that needs funding. Neither are we the only development agency that is trying to attract investments,” warned Masing.

Also present at the lab was Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi, Assistant Water Supply Minister Datuk Liwan Lagang and various state assemblymen as well as MPs. — DayakDaily