ALOR SETAR, Jan 31 — The Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) has exceeded its initial investment target for Kedah last year of RM8.6 billion, by 22 per cent to RM10.52 billion, while realised investments have exceeded the initial target by 138 per cent, to RM4.17 billion.
Kedah Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said in terms of job creation, the NCIA surpassed the initial target by 164 per cent, to 5,280 jobs.
“Through NCIA’s strategic projects, investments, and human capital programmes, more than 15,000 job opportunities have been created in Kedah, and an estimated 3,000 microentrepreneurs have been developed.
“At the same time, more than 5,000 micro-enterprises and SMEs (small-and-medium enterprises) have been given financial assistance to ensure the continuity of their businesses and livelihoods,” he said in a statement after chairing the State Steering Committee meeting today.
He added that NCIA’s approach in addressing the region’s income disparity, as outlined in the NCER Strategic Development Plan 2021-2025 (SDP NCER), is designed to provide a highly-skilled workforce to drive knowledge-based economic development, as well as innovation and technology-based activities.
“NCIA has played an important role in assisting Kedah’s socioeconomic recovery and ensuring that the state remains competitive in attracting foreign and domestic investments. Strategic projects, such as the Kedah Rubber City (KRC) in particular, could transform Malaysia into becoming a regional high-value rubber technology hub in Asean.
“Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, will officiate KRC in Padang Terap, next week. Once fully completed, KRC will be able to spur Malaysia to regain the status as a world leader in the rubber industry. This will eventually benefit the people of Kedah through new job opportunities and increased economic activities,” he said.
He added that, given the global growing need for medical grade rubber gloves, NCIA has facilitated the approval of investments worth RM10 billion from high-tech manufacturers who are seeking to increase their production capacity at Kulim High Tech Park (KHTP), as well as in the Bukit Kayu Hitam Special Border Economic Zone (BKHSBEZ).
“R&D collaboration with local universities is also being planned to develop and commercialise high-value medical grade nitrile-based products, for production of high-tech rubber products.
“To further develop local entrepreneurs in rural Kedah to leverage on these newly created growth areas, NCIA has introduced the Integrated Economic and Community Centre (iCON@NCER). iCON will provide the infrastructure and facilities needed to reduce the disparity gap between those living in urban and rural areas, by unlocking the potential of less developed areas in Kedah to a wider market.
Muhammad Sanusi said two pilot iCON projects in Baling and Yan will commence this year, with expected completion in Q3 2023. NCIA is currently focusing on developing iCON’s pioneer entrepreneurs through its various human capital programmes, including entrepreneurNCER.
“Fast track programmes, such as JomNiaga@NCER and JomKerja@NCER, which have been implemented since August 2020, focus on retraining and improving skills, integrated with soft skills training to strengthen the competitiveness of participants in the job market.
“This directly provides employment opportunities to unemployed graduates and retrenched workers. To date, the JomNiaga@NCER program has created more than 500 job opportunities and produced 1,600 entrepreneurs,” he said.
He said the NCIA human capital programmes being implemented in Kedah, namely the NCER — Training and Entrepreneurship and NCER Talent Enhancement Programme (NTEP), have benefited nearly 7,000 participants, including youths, women and unemployed graduates.
“Participants are also given courses and guidance on entrepreneurship, and financial assistance to ease interest on loan payments,” he said.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Sanusi said the Kasih Ibu Darul Aman (KIDA) programme was continuing this year to benefit 4,400 women representing hardcore poor households in Kedah, by helping to address the cost of living through a cashless card system to purchase household items from a panel of retailers, and seek healthcare at private panel clinics.
“In line with the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) target of zero hardcore poor by 2025, KIDA participants are encouraged to participate in the empowerNCER and JomNiaga@NCER programmes, and to date 190 of them have managed to generate their own income and are on the right track to improve their families’ socioeconomic status,” he said.
Meanwhile, NCIA chief executive, Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John, said through NCIA’s integrated human capital programmes, aimed at improving the economy and workforce ecosystem in Kedah, investors will be able to tap into the comprehensive supply chain of skilled manpower, as well as leverage the network between industries and institutions of higher learning.
“In line with the National Recovery Plan, more than 4,500 job opportunities will be created for locals, which will have a positive impact on socioeconomic development in Kedah,” he said. — Bernama