KOTA KINABALU: Sabah created new history by achieving the highest ever state revenue surpassing RM5 billion last year, despite the challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The state's economic growth in 2021 showed a recovery trend and continued to grow slowly at a positive rate of 3.8 to 4 per cent, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.
In 2020, he said the state's economic growth declined by 9.5 per cent which was significantly less than the expected decrease of between 15 and 19 per cent.
Overall, the Malaysian economy declined by 5.4 per cent in 2020 when the federal government implemented strict movement control orders, he said in his keynote address at the inaugural Sabah International Business and Economic Summit (SIBES) at Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) here.
Themed "Unlocking Sabah's Potential, Unleashing Business Opportunities", Hajiji expressed confidence Sabah's economy will grow in tandem with Malaysia's economy as the world reopens.
"The Ministry of Finance in its Economic Report 2022 expects the Malaysian economy to strengthen between 5.5 and 6.5 per cent. In other words, Sabah's best days are definitely ahead of us," said Hajiji who is also the state Finance Minister.
Hajiji said when he took over the Sabah chief ministership, the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) led government launched the five-year Hala Tuju Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) Development Plan from 2021, a roadmap that sets out a new strategic direction for Sabah's economic development.
The SMJ focused on three main economic sectors - agriculture, industry and tourism to provide clarity on Sabah's key focus areas, especially for businesses and investors.
The Sabah government, he said, also intends to leverage on technology and innovation to boost productivity and growth.
"For example, using drones to map and manage large swaths of palm oil plantations in live time is already commonplace. In Sabah, there is an abundance of opportunities for investors," he said.
He cited last year, the Linaco Group of Companies committed to invest in and develop large-scale high-yield hybrid coconut plantations including downstream industrial development.
The project, he said, involves an estimated initial investment of RM200 million and is expected to provide 4,250 job opportunities.
He also shared there will be three Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) signing ceremonies taking place tomorrow in conjunction with the summit.
The MoU agreements are for high-impact investments in agriculture, industrial and tourism.
"We are certain these new investments – including an innovative solar glass manufacturing and a large-scale herbs plantation among them, will assure Sabah of good returns whilst creating job opportunities for our people.
"We look forward to partner with more investors who are serious to do business with us.
"I assure investors, foreign and domestic that the state government will strengthen the implementation of these projects to ensure their success," said Hajiji.