The East Coast Economic Region (ECER) is on track with its socio-economic transformation, achieving robust growth in jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for the Rakyat in the Region. To date, 133,000 jobs have been generated and 14,240 entrepreneurs have been created across urban and rural areas in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Mersing in Johor. Under the 9th and 10th Malaysia Plan, the Government had allocated RM6 billion to implement 111 strategic human capital, socio-economic programmes and infrastructure projects in the ECER. With the government’s support and strategic infrastructure projects implemented, ECER is able to draw foreign and domestic investments of RM89.7 billion which represents a return of over 14.4 times. To further accelerate ECER’s growth towards becoming a developed and high-income region by 2020, the Federal Government has allocated another RM1.2 billion under the Rolling Plan 1 of the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP – 2016 to 2020) to implement 12 new human capital development, socio-economic programmes and high-impact projects via the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) in line with the new economic model, which gives a balanced emphasis to both the capital economy and people economy. “Through ECERDC, the Government’s socio-economic programmes, implemented to uplift the people’s standard of living are showing positive results especially in transforming the rural landscape. In ECER, job opportunities are not only generated by big corporations, the programmes are creating micro entrepreneurs as well as small and medium sized enterprises (SME) entrepreneurs who in turn, are generating job opportunities for the locals. “Of the total, more than 19,000 job opportunities have been created by the 14,000 participants who have become entrepreneurs after completing ECERDC’s human capital development programmes. Most of them are from the Bumiputera community and they are now earning up to RM10,000 per month on average,” said Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John, Chief Executive Officer of the ECERDC at ECERDC’s Second Council Meeting for 2016. The meeting was chaired by the Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, who is also its Chairman. ECERDC’s human capital development programmes, developed with the objective of transforming the region’s socio-economy, increasing income and quality of life of the Rakyat, have to date, successfully reached out to more than 60,000 people, many whom have ventured into entrepreneurship, secured a job or achieved better academic results following their participation. Of the total, 41,495 underperforming students from low income families has benefited from the academic training programme. As a result, 98% of them passed all subjects in their UPSR, PT3 and SPM examination, out of which, 17% achieved 5As and above. “In line with the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), our human capital development initiatives touch all segments of society and across all races. More importantly, 93% of our participants are from the B40 income group including single mothers, unemployed youths, the disabled, Orang Asli, the Chinese and the Indian community, underscoring our commitment to developing the ECER in an inclusive and sustainable manner,” explained Datuk Seri Issace. In recognition of the successes of the entrepreneurs created under the empower ECER Skills and Entrepreneurship training programme, 15 individuals were selected as winners of the inaugural Anugerah Usahawan empower ECER Awards, which were presented by the Prime Minister in a special ceremony after the Council meeting. A total of eight award categories were presented including categories for Orang Asli, Single Mothers and the Disabled. The top accolade, the Anugerah Usahawan Gemilang empower ECER went to Khairul Azizi bin Ramli, who is now a successful entrepreneur currently managing multiple businesses. Khairul Azizi first joined empower ECER in Ketereh, following a business failure which had forced him to sell his house. Through hard work and knowledge he acquired from empower ECER, he started a charcoal distribution business and is now distributing the product to more than 2,000 retail outlets and supermarkets nationwide, supported by 10 full-time employees and 53 agents. With his new found success, he is now providing a platform for new entrepreneurs to market their products at Mydin and Econsave as well as other retail outlets. As part of the Government’s Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda, ECERDC has continued to provide incentives, guidance and business advisory for Bumiputera companies to increase their participation in economic activities in the ECER. To date, a total of 129 projects with approved investments worth RM15 billion has been undertaken by Bumiputera companies. This represents 22.1% of the total investments approved in the ECER, highlighting the Region’s success in achieving the nation’s goal of increasing Bumiputera equity. Whilst many of these Bumiputera companies are SMEs, they form the backbone of the Region’s economy as their numbers are large and the economic spill over in terms of employment and consumption is significant particularly at the grassroots level. On the investment front, the RM89.7 billion of foreign and domestic investments into the ECER represents 81% of the targeted private investments of RM110 billion by 2020. The average annual rate of growth in new investments over the 9MP/10MP decade was 28.6% per annum. “As ECER is still developing, we have the opportunity to shape its development to become more sustainable, inclusive and progressive as envisioned for a ‘21st Century developing economy’. We are doing this by ensuring that our policies, interventions and incentives are holistic and focuses on longer term game-changer initiatives that encourage higher value-added sectors and the growth of small and micro-enterprises to create a more balanced capital and people economy. “We are committed to make the ECER an example of an economic region which showcases sustainable, people-centric and inclusive development. There are many more strategic initiatives and development programmes which we are planning to implement under the 11MP towards 2020. These key projects include the Kampung Laut tourism development and Tok Bali Industrial Park in Kelantan; the development of Kuantan in Pahang as a Port City or ‘Rotterdam of the East’; the development of the Kuala Terengganu City Centre (KTCC) and Akuapolitan Kuala Nerus in Terengganu; the Endau-Rompin fish processing park and tourism projects in Mersing, Johor as well as the preservation and conservation efforts at Tasik Chini Biosphere Reserve,” Datuk Seri Issace concluded.