There are lots of rave and rants following the announcement of Malaysian Budget 2011 by the Prime Minister last week. The PM claims that this is a budget that considers feedback from the ‘rakyat’. People are expecting some ‘goodies’ from this Budget and they’ve been rewarded in the form of 90 days maternity leave and no toll rate increase in the next 5 years, to mention a few. On the other, they were hit hard by the introduction of service tax of 6% for hospitals, paid-TV, and restaurants starting next year. Nevertheless, the tourism industry in Malaysia could see some lights in the tunnel with the announcement of several promising projects, and some of them are very big one. Followings are some tourism-related notes that I captured from the Malaysian Budget 2011 for my own reference. If you’re a would-be tourist to Malaysia, read this note to expect what you will see in Malaysia in the near future.
- New landmark, Warisan Merdeka, will be built in Kuala Lumpur within the enclave of Merdeka Stadium and Stadium Negara. Both stadiums will be preserved as national heritages. When completed, it will replace the Petronas Twin Towers status as the tallest building in Malaysia. The 100-storey building is expected to be completed in 2015. It will not be a world-beater though as the present highest building in the world is Burj Al-Arab in Dubai with 108 storey.
The new landmark is probably the most unpopular items in the Budget. It already attracted many negative comments and some quarters questioned whether it is appropriate to build another tallest tower in Malaysia when we already have one. The priority should be given to other people-centric projects, they said. It doesn’t help either when the tourism minister made a statement that the new landmark will boost tourism.
- The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project is on the horizon to enhance the utilization rate of public transport by at least 40% upon its completion in 2020. To draw a comparison, Hong Kong and Singapore current utilization rate is higher than 40%. The project cost estimates are RM40 billion through private investment. MRT is the vital element in achieving ‘Greater Kuala Lumpur’ plans.
- Import duty on approximately 300 items will be scrapped to promote Malaysia as Asia’s shopping haven. However, I had a little concern of it’s success when Najib mentioned the items list: children’s apparels, wallet, handbags, shoes, imitation jewelery, shampoo, hair colourants, mosquito nets, talcum powder, table cloth and bed sheets, among others. However, the move is important to bring down the prices of goods if we were to compete with Hong Kong and Singapore that lures more shoppers to their country every year. Last year, tourism generated RM53 billion in revenue for Malaysia. The abolition of import duties took effect immediately after the Budget announcement.
- A RM50 million will be put aside to build shaded walkways in the KLCC-Bukit Bintang vicinity. This is to increase connectivity between shopping and entertainment areas in the city, hence encourage tourists to spend more on shopping.
- RM85 million was allocated to facilitate construction of more hotels and resorts in remote areas.
- An integrated eco-nature resort, set to be the first in the world, will commence in 2011 with RM3 billion allocated budget. The Nexus Karambunai is committed to develop the resort in Sabah to leverage on its renowned natural wonders. It is understood that this project will use private funds.
Some of the tourism-related projects above are indeed very interesting and can’t be postponed, for example, the MRT project. It is a much awaited project and crucial if Kuala Lumpur wants to be a metropolitan city by 2020. I was expecting to hear some news about the plan to create a waterfront off Klang River in Kuala Lumpur but it’s not mentioned in the Budget. The scariest part however, is to expect massive traffic jams in Kuala Lumpur for the next couple of years if several high-impact projects such as MRT and Warisan Merdeka did took place.
What do you think about Budget 2011? If you wrote anything of the same topic in your blog, please share the link with me in the comment space below.
Note: Read more details about Malaysian Budget 2011 here.
Update (21st April 2011): Fifth Progress Update of Economic Transformation Programs – 12 new projects, including Karambunai Integrated Eco-Resort, worth RM11.6 billions were announced. Click here for the news.