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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

(The Star) Sabah economy can be enhanced with deeper BIMP-EAGA integration

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has huge economic growth potential in various fields if it is able to increase integration with the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Philippines–East Asean Growth Area).

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan said Sabah, being a passing point for major vessels including those heading from New Zealand and Australia to Japan, China and Taiwan among others, is a hidden gem.

“These vessels go through our east coasts and if we are able to develop these areas and promote barter trade for ships, it can be a great industry.

“But Sabah need to integrate its industry and economy regionally with BIMP-EAGA,” he said.

He said though the BIMP-EAGA had been around for quite some time, it probably needed a new breath.

Rahman said if Sabah had deeper and more economic integration with the BIMP-EAGA, they could unleash untapped potentials for economic growth.

“In Kalimantan, they have minerals such as gas, coal, fuel, petroleum and plantations but not enough services to make use of them,” he said during a breaking-of-fast programme with the media here.

“In Sabah, we have small and medium-sized enterprises, we have tourism sectors and all these can make use of the minerals and resources Kalimantan can offer,” he said.

Rahman said the problem allowing better integration between Sabah and Kalimantan was mainly political but it should be set aside for the benefit of both parties.

He suggested for one or two border towns to be opened up with proper road heading to Kalimantan from Serudung, Kalabakan of Sabah for this purpose.

“If we have this road then barter trade will also develop. As we know, the barter trade at sea is now halted due to security reasons,” he said.

“But if we have proper roads with the CIQ (customs, immigration and quarantine), it will make things including the monitoring of movements of goods and people so much safer and systematic,” he added.

Rahman said he had brought this up in the Cabinet and the state government seemed quite interested but more studies were needed to make it work.

“I have also instructed the Asean Development Bank (ADB) to do a more in-depth study on how we can integrate the economy with North Kalimantan, southern Philippines and Brunei,” said the minister in charge of the Economic Planning Unit portfolio.

Rahman said Sabah right now had no proper border control on roads connecting Kalimatan.

He said the ADB study had been commissioned and they were now looking into it.

“They have submitted the preliminary report to me and the numbers look good,” he said, adding they were waiting for the complete report on how to go about it.

He also said Kalimantan had given positive response to the idea and what was needed now was more interaction and connection between both regions.