Projects to kick-start nation's high income quest

PETALING JAYA: Among the larger projects that could come about as a result of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) are the building of the mass rapid transit (MRT) system and the once-shelved high-speed rail between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

The ETP has also laid down plans to make Malaysia the number one Asian hub for oil field services, cleaning up and beautifying the capital city's rivers, building a 7km shopping strip with covered walkways and identifying sites for the country's first nuclear power plant.

These are some of the 131 ''entry point projects'' spanning 11 national key economic areas (NKEAs), ranging from electronics to agriculture, that would generate big results fast, the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) said.

It added that the investments would be led by the private sector and the Government would play a facilitative role in ensuring that these projects get off the ground.

The oil, gas and energy NKEA alone is expected to raise its contribution to the total gross national income (GNI) to RM241bil by 2020 from RM110bil in 2009.

This will require about RM218bil in funding, most of which would come from the private sector.

Part of the plans for this sector is to consolidate all domestic fabricators to increase their likelihood of winning major contracts.

It is understood that this will entail a merger of existing oil and gas fabricators owned by companies such as Kencana Petroleum Bhd, Malaysia Marine & Heavy Engineering Sdn Bhd, Ramunia Holdings Bhd, Sime Engineering Bhd, Boustead Heavy Industries Corp Bhd, Oilcorp Bhd and Brooke Dockyard and Engineering Works Corp.

However, an analyst notes that it is not going to be easy to merge all these companies, considering their diverse shareholder base. A source familiar with the plans said Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) would play a key role in overseeing this merger.

Another proposal for the oil and gas sector is to build a regional oil storage centre which hopefully will eventually be a hub.

In his opening remarks to a packed hall at the Putra World Trade Centre yesterday, Pemandu CEO Datuk Seri Idris Jala singled out the planned RM5bil deepwater oil storage project in south Johor by Dialog Group Bhd as an example of the kind of private sector investments that would boost the country's growth.

The independent deepwater storage terminal for oil products in Pengerang, south-east Johor, is undertaken by Dialog and its partner, Vopak, via a 51:49 joint venture. The joint-venture company, Dialog Vopak JV, owns 90% of the project, with the Johor government holding the balance 10% stake.

Met on the sidelines of the ETP open day yesterday, Dialog managing director Ngau Boon Keat said his company hoped to receive all the necessary approvals, which include those from the Environment Department, for this project by year-end.

The energy sector would also see investments for the deployment of nuclear energy for power generation and building up the country's solar power capacity.

According to Pemandu, the MRT project will be the largest infrastructure project in Malaysia spread across 141km of three new corridors and integrated with existing rail systems such as the KTM Komuter, monorail and light rail transit.

The MRT project is also supposed to generate jobs for 130,000 people. While no figure had been revealed for the total project cost, it will be 66% privately funded, according to Pemandu.

It had earlier been reported that the MRT project would cost RM36bil, leaving some to question if the private sector can foot such a bill.