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Labuan business group proposes 4 initiatives in 2024 budget

The federal territory of Labuan has been grappling with several issues that require strategic solutions to unlock its full potential, says a business leader. (Bernama pic)

LABUAN: The Labuan Chamber of Commerce (LCC) has submitted four proposals for Budget 2024 aimed at addressing key challenges and fostering economic growth on this duty-free, island federal territory.

The proposals were presented to the chief secretary to the government Zuki Ali during the Budget 2024 consultation session with state government administrations, industry players in the Federal Territories, and other stakeholders at the Auditorium Perdana in Putrajaya last Friday.

LCC secretary Raymund Pang, during a presentation of “Labuan’s Economic Transformation: Challenges and Opportunities”, said Labuan, Malaysia’s international business and financial centre (IBFC), has been grappling with several issues that require strategic solutions to unlock its full potential.

“The LCC’s proposals aim to tackle these challenges head-on and build critical mass to drive economic recovery and growth,” he said, adding that the first proposal is to reintroduce transhipment for alcohol and tobacco products such as cigarettes.

Raymund Pang.

“The first initiative seeks to reestablish Labuan as a transhipment hub, capitalising on the Brunei Darussalam–Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) network.

“By doing so, Labuan can stimulate business activities, create job opportunities, and reduce shipping costs,” he said.

Pang added that the revival of transhipment for alcohol and cigarettes would not only strengthen Labuan’s position in the region but also contribute significantly to its economic growth.

LCC’s second proposal is to relocate the existing ferry roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) terminal to Tanjung Aru Labuan, which would significantly reduce travel time from two hours to just 45 minutes.

“This move will enhance logistical efficiency and result in substantial cost savings for both businesses and individuals. Improved connectivity is expected to boost trade and tourism in the region,” he said.

Pang also highlighted the need to repurpose the long-abandoned RM86 million Halal Hub Complex.

“The redundant halal hub complex in Labuan can be transformed into a free commercial zone, creating opportunities for new businesses and catalysing transhipment activities,” he added.

“This repurposing initiative is expected to breathe new life into an underutilised asset and further boost Labuan’s economic potential.”

Pang said LCC’s fourth proposal was to develop Labuan as an education hub.

“Leveraging Labuan’s safe and healthy environment, this initiative aims to attract more private higher learning institutions to the region.

“By offering incentives to these institutions, Labuan can become an education hub, attracting a steady influx of students. This, in turn, will support local businesses, create employment opportunities, and contribute to the upskilling of Labuan residents,” he said.

Pang said while Labuan has witnessed impressive economic growth, addressing underlying challenges is crucial to ensure that this prosperity benefits all residents.

“The initiatives proposed by the Labuan Chamber of Commerce align with the goal of creating critical mass, thus paving the way for sustainable recovery and growth.”