Potential RM1.5b investment from Mideast

Middle Eastern investors may invest some RM1.5 billion in a petroleum tank farm and halal industrial park in Penang Port.

Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) chairman Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya yesterday said potential investors have approached PPSB to set up shop in the port area to tap the export potential of the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle.

“We are looking at reclaiming some 400 hectares of land to accommodate the proposed tank farm and halal hub.

“We also have plans to house a free commercial zone and free industrial zone within the port area to facilitate the easier movement of goods for investors,” Dr Hilmi told reporters after a Penang Port Commission port consultative committee meeting chaired by PPC chairman Tan Cheng Liang.

The closed-door meeting, which was attended by officials from the finance and transport ministries and the Economic Planning Unit, was also attended by Penang port users.

The proposed area for land reclamation would be south of the Butterworth Port on mainland Penang.

“Since we have received positive indication of the port’s RM350 million request from the federal government to carry out capital dredging works under the 10th Malaysia Plan, we are hoping that the sand from the dredging activities can be used for our land reclamation purposes,” he said.

The north channel dredging of the port, from its current 11.5m depth to 14.5m, was supposed to be carried out between 2010 and 2012 to serve main line operators calling at the port.

However, the government deferred the project in its mid-term review of the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

Dr Hilmi noted the tank farm is likely to bring in a RM1 billion investment, while the proposed halal hub will rake in an estimated RM500 million.

“We are looking at potential investors to help us finance this project,” he added, “since we do not want to borrow any funds.

“We have had interest shown by parties from China and the Middle East so far to help us in the funding,” he added.

Several investors – such as those engaged in liquid crystal display production – have stated that they want to be located in an area where shipping of the goods can be seamless.

“Our next step would be to call in all interested parties to map out a detailed plan, before we proceed with obtaining permission from the federal authorities via the finance and transport ministries.”

Dr Hilmi, a former finance ministry parliamentary secretary, gave an assurance that the proposed Penang Port expansion plan would in no way end up like the scandal-hit Port Klang Free Zone project in Selangor.

By: Marina Emmanuel

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