The BN dangles another carrot by saying a huge customs and immigration zone will be developed if BN is returned to Penang.
GEORGE TOWN: The Barisan Nasional has offered yet another incentive to the voters of Penang. Help BN retake the state and they will develop a customs and immigration zone on 3,000 acres of reclaimed land.
This idea comes from the Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) chairman Dr Hilmi Yahaya. He suggested the complex be developed on a 3,000-acre reclaimed land in Bagan on the mainland.
But, like the free port status (FPS), Hilmi’s suggestion also comes with a catch that the zone can only be realised if the Barisan Nasional re-captures Penang.
The Umno Teluk Bahang assemblyman said since development of CIQ would heavily involve land matters, which come under the state government, the project can be easily carried out only when BN helms Penang.
“We will implement Customs, Immigration Quarantine (CIQ) zone once we are the state government,” he told a press conference here today.
Also present were state Gerakan chief Dr Teng Hock Nan, BN state treasurer David Chua Teik Siang, information chief Tan Cheng Liang, psy-war bureau chief Loga Bala Mohan and MIC deputy chief L Krishnan.
He said CIQ would include free commercial, free industrial and halal hub zones and a petroleum complex among others near the Butterworth port area.
Companies, both foreign and domestic, operating within the CIQ zone would be given tax incentives.
The companies can store products such as petrol in the zone and export to international market.
100,000 new jobs
Based on Hilmi’s assessment, the CIQ would create more than 100,000 jobs for locals and stimulate growth of related domestic industries and businesses.
“It would be a major booster for Penang’s economy,” he said, adding that CIQ was a different project plan in PPSB pipeline, compared with FPS.
He said either PPSB, or its subsidiary or even a new company can run the operations of CIQ.
Given that current economic dynamics were very much different than in 1960s, Hilmi said the implementation of FPS must match the changes.
He indicated Malaysian trade agreement with Australia and Asean Free Trade Area were among major issues needed to be addressed before FPS could be realised.
He said the federal government was still deliberating on FPS proposal.
On the criticisms by DAP-led state government on the imminent privatisation of Penang port, Hilmi was amused that Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng failed to differentiate between a private ownership of port operations and FPS.
“Even though he is a qualified accountant, he could not see the visible differences between private operations and tax exemptions,” chided Hilmi.
DAP has warned that the sale of Penang port to tycoon Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary spelt economic disaster for Penang.