JOHOR BARU: Johor-based business organisations lauded the decision by the state government to set up the Johor Investment Co (Jico) in Singapore.
Johor Indian Business Association president P. Sivakumar said the setting up of Jico was a move in the right direction as Johor would benefit from Singapore’s position as the international trade and financial hub.
He said post-Covid 19, when borders reopen globally, the state would be able to tap into the opportunities that come with the reopening.
“However, Johor must have its investment strategies and economic growth plans in place to benefit businesses here,’’ said Sivakumar.
He said Johor and Singapore have always enjoyed a cordial relationship due to their close proximity, adding that it was a well-known fact that both were economically interdependent.
Sivakumar said the state government must make the decision to set up Jico clear.
“Is the office to attract more investments from Singapore into Johor or attract investors from other countries who visit Jico.
“We are also interested to know if Jico will end up duplicating efforts by the Iskandar Regional Development Authority including attracting investments from Singapore,’’ he said.
Johor South SME adviser Teh Kee Sin said Jico must be used to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) into Johor.
He said post-Covid-19, many large companies would look for more competitive locations to set up their plants; leading to relocation of FDI.
“More efforts are needed to attract these large companies which will create employment for locals.
“Those who were retrenched by Singapore employers during the Covid-19 pandemic will benefit as well,’’ said Teh.
He said Johor has the advantages to attract investors, including a literate labour force and comprehensive infrastructure.
“We must act fast or risk losing out to other countries in the region,” said Teh.
It was reported that Johor hopes to emulate Singapore, which has an office here, and set up one of its own in the island republic to handle commerce and culture.
Jico is expected to be opened by the end of the year and headed by a member of the Johor civil service.
Presently Singapore, which has a high commission in Kuala Lumpur, also has a consul-general based in Johor.
Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad said that Jico was necessary to enhance the state’s bilateral and economic ties with Singapore.
He stressed that Jico was not an office to deal with matters related to diplomatic matters which were presently under the purview of Wisma Putra.
Hasni pointed out that the office was in line with the government’s plan to review and strengthen the Singapore-Johor-Indonesia (Sijori) triangle of growth.
Sijori was launched in December 1989 and is a tripartite agreement between Singapore, Johor (in Malaysia) and Riau (in Indonesia) that seeks to exploit the competitive strengths of the three areas, and make the sub-region attractive to regional and international investors.
The growth triangle links the logistics, transportation and financial facilities of Singapore with the natural and labour resources of Johor and Riau.