Don warns of resistance to proposed Penang special financial zone

Angie Tan

Economics professor Lim Hock Eam says it is ideal for Penang to set up a special financial zone due to its geographic advantages. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, September 22, 2023.

PROPONENTS of Penang’s proposed special financial zone (SFZ) are steeling themselves for a rejection of the plan mooted by Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng.

Universiti Utara Malaysia’s economics professor Lim Hock Eam said although it was an excellent proposal, realising the plan would not be that simple.

He said its implementation would depend on the political will of the federal government.

Hock Eam also said the state government was certain to face political challenges and resistance from envious groups and the opposition.

“From the economic perspective, Penang is an excellent choice for the zone due to its geographic advantages and spill-over effects,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

Hock Eam said Penang has the experience in managing a special economic zone, having successfully implemented its free trade zone.

He said when comparing Penang to its neighbouring states such as Kedah, Perak and Perlis, the island had a few advantages.

“Penang has better infrastructure, better connectivity and a pool of talent. The SFZ could benefit the entire northern region of the peninsula and help these northern states move beyond their current middle-income status,” he said.

“Still, its successful implementation will require favourable timing and consensus among stakeholders.”

Guan Eng, a former finance minister and the current national chairman of DAP, has called for unity and support from everyone in Penang to ensure that the federal government approves the establishment of the SFZ.

State executive councillor in charge of tourism and creative economy Wong Hon Wai is among those backing the proposal.

The proponents believe it will provide various economic benefits and opportunities for the region’s development.

The Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce is also for the proposal, saying favorable government policies will drive growth of new sectors, especially the services industry.

It said having the SFZ is a step in the right direction and an opportunity to expand Penang’s economic capabilities. – September 22, 2023.

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