Guan Eng Questions Putrajaya’s Low Referrals To Penang Despite Record Investments

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GEORGETOWN, Oct 18 – The Penang government still wants to know why the state only got two investment referrals from federal authorities this year, despite having recorded more investments than last year. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said if there had been more referrals this year from the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) to Penang, the total value of investments in the state would be even higher now.

“We appreciate Mida’s announcement that for the first seven months of the year we have made RM4.6 billion in investments, even more than the RM3.9 billion we got for the whole of last year. “But if the number of referrals by Mida to investPenang is at the same level as what the authority gave us in previous years, the investments recorded would be higher now.

“This is the question that immediately comes to mind,” he told reporters in Penang today. In 2011, there were 26 referrals from Mida to investPenang, and 24 in 2012. But the number dropped drastically to four last year and two this year. Yesterday, Mida deputy chief executive officer I, Datuk Phang Ah Tong, said 95 projects with a total capital investment of RM4.6 billion were approved for Penang between January and July this year alone. The 95 projects include those which investPenang sourced itself.

That accounted for about 40% of the country’s total approved investment for the electronic and electrical sector (E&E), amounting to RM8.5 billion this year, he said. Phang said by year-end, the total number of investments projected would be higher than the 119 projects approved last year, and there would also be a rise from last year’s RM3.9 billion approved investments.

“Penang’s investment record for this year has surpassed its previous year’s investment by 15% as opposed to the country’s total capital investment that enjoyed only a 2% rise over the same period. “Penang’s increase surpassed its total capital investment last year by 15% within seven months of this year. This is overwhelming,” Phang was quoted as saying at a seminar in Penang.

The federal investment authority was responding to Lim’s earlier claim that it had allegedly stopped introducing and recommending companies, and failed to act on state letters for support or follow up on potential investments. Lim alleged that Mida’s neglect had become serious enough that a large international firm was giving up interest in Penang and Malaysia because of delays.

In a recent exclusive interview by The Malaysian Insider, Lim said according to the data supplied by Penang’s investment promoter investPenang, the number of new potential investors referred to it by Mida had dropped since 2011. Lim today thanked Mida for approving the referrals but asked the authority to explain the drop in referrals since last year.

“Let’s look at this factually. The number of referrals have dropped. Why did that happen? “What is Mida’s target for Penang? It must have one to measure its KPI (key performance index).” He said despite the drop, Penang’s investments still went up in terms of figures, which was because the investor that investPenang had referred to Mida were approved.

Asked if the drop was because there was no available land in Penang for investors, he said Mida would have to first refer to the state to find out if there was land for new factories. Lim, who had also been criticised by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed over the issue, clarified that he did not want to play politics with investments.

“It does not matter who claims credit because what is good for Penang is also good for Malaysia. “We are not interested in political games or polemics here but to just share facts and see how we can improve for the better. “We can also share the feedback we received with the federal authority,” he said, but declined to discuss them openly to reporters.

Lim said the principle factor for success was cooperation and Penang hoped it could get it from federal authorities. “My staff and I are willing to meet with the minister and Mida officers over this. “If our facts are wrong, then we are ready to stand corrected,” he said.

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