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Penang seeks RM500 million from federal govt

PENANG, 6 Nov 2008: The Penang government, in bracing itself for economic uncertainty next year in the wake of the global financial turmoil, has sought RM500 million from the federal government to fund the retraining of workers due to possible retrenchment.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the RM50 million to be allocated by the state government for the purpose would be insufficient.

He said RM500 million was needed over the next five years to equip retrenched workers with new skills to enable them take up different jobs if the situation warranted it.

“So far, there have been no reports of retrenchment of workers but I am not sure what will happen next year.

“Nevertheless, the state government will strive to create job opportunities so that the people in the state will have a source of income,” he told reporters after launching a video on Penang Tourism 2008 and having a dialogue with people in the tourism business, here. 

Lim said he was made to understand that the economic situation next year would be uncertain and something had to be done to reduce its impact on the people.

Lim said a special committee headed by Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy had been instructed to monitor the trend of manpower utilisation in the state and hold discussions with multinational companies on the need to retain local workers.

“We hope that companies which want to retrench workers would retrench migrant workers first before retrenching local workers,” he said.

He said he would outline several measures which Penang would adopt to face an economic depression when tabling Budget 2009 in the state assembly next week.

He also said that the state government had attracted foreign investment to the tune of RM6.1 billion in the last seven months compared to the RM4.7 billion in the whole of last year, adding that this situation should be improved further in the future.

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for Penang rose to 6.5% last year, up by 0.3% from the 6.2% the year before, he said.

Lim said the services sector was the biggest contributor to the state’s economy, contributing 56.9%, followed by manufacturing (39.5%), construction (2.6%), agriculture (0.8%) and mining (0.1%).

He said the global economic recession might have an impact on these sectors next year and the state government would step up promotion of the tourism sector to maintain the economic growth of the state.

The three-minute video entitled Penang Has It All, which depicted the various cultures, customs, religions, food and place of attraction in the state, was an effort to sell the uniqueness of Penang to foreign tourists, he said.

He said the state government would develop amenities and infrastructure for 10 core tourism products to spur the growth of the sector.

This will make Penang ideal for medical tourism; heritage and history; education; headquarters of multinational companies; meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE); eco-tourism; culinary centre, filming, culture and arts; shopping, and sport activities. — Bernama


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