The state's strategic location is due to its close proximity to the Klang Valley. With mega projects such as the Malaysia Vision Valley 2.0 (MVV 2.0), East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and High-Speed Rail (HSR) set to become its significant economic development drivers, it has the prospect of becoming on par with other developed states.
Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun said the business-friendly policy adopted by the state government that has attracted many foreign and domestic investors to the state is one of the measures that could stimulate its economic growth and create more jobs for locals.
Meanwhile, State Investment, Industrial, Entrepreneurship, Education and Human Capital Action Committee chairman Datuk Dr Mohamad Rafie Ab Malek, in an interview with Bernama, said the state government was optimistic of achieving the total investment target of RM5 billion this year, despite constraints due to the COVID-19 pandemic that culminated in the implementation of various phases of the Movement Control Order (MCO) by the federal government.
Negeri Sembilan has continued to become the investors’ choice, recording RM3.6 billion in total investment in 2019, an increase of RM1.17 billion, compared to RM2.43 billion in 2018, creating 3,347 jobs.
In 2017, RM1.1 billion in total investment was registered.
The state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at a moderate rate of 4.2 per cent valued at RM45.70 billion in 2018 compared to 4.9 per cent worth RM43.80 billion in 2017.
The GDP for 2019 was worth RM48 billion and this performance was contributed by two main sectors, namely manufacturing and services which accounted for RM39.3 billion or 86.1 per cent.
Besides that, the tourism sector, which is also a sustainable economic source of revenue for Negeri Sembilan, showed a remarkable increase in tourist arrivals of 14.58 per cent or 7.86 million travellers in 2018 from 6.86 million in 2017.
The state received 6.43 million tourist arrivals last year.
In addition to the investment revenue, the state government managed to boost its revenue by RM556 million in 2019, exceeding the target of RM430 million, compared to RM413.46 million in 2018.
In the quest to strengthen its economy and development, he said the state government has formulated the Negeri Sembilan Economic Development Master Plan encompassing the industrial, agricultural and biodiversity sectors.
"This master plan is very critical because we are going to develop Negeri Sembilan in a planned and orderly manner.
“In principle, the industrial and manufacturing sectors are concentrated in two main districts in the MVV2.0 area in Seremban and Port Dickson," he said, adding that the remaining four districts, namely Jempol , Kuala Pilah, Tampin and Rembau will be empowered as agropolis areas, as well as tourist destinations.
Even though the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the world economic environment have also affected the state’s development planning, including domestic and foreign investments, Mohamad Rafie said efforts to woo investors would continue to be intensified.
“All the planning that was delayed during the MCO has been restored and at the state government’s meeting last week, we have decided to ensure that an investment worth RM1.5 billion for a semiconductor manufacturing plant in Seremban will be given a 'fast track' approach without bureaucracy and free of all problems that could cause delays," he said.
In an effort to further diversify its economic sources of income, he said the state government was also focusing on the development of high-tech economies in the industrial, manufacturing, services, maritime, and agricultural sectors, as new revenue streams.
For the Port Dickson district, the industrial and manufacturing sector planning entails the development of the NS Aerospace Valley, an industrial area related to the manufacture and installation of aircraft in Lukut-Tanah Merah, Port Dickson, spanning 16,000 acres (6474.97 hectares).
“The project is currently in the final stages of addressing matters related to land. And we have developers who are ready to develop it besides seeing how we can penetrate the maritime sector by gazetting the mooring area of ships off Port Dickson while waiting for their turn to enter Port Klang," he said.
Under the Negeri Sembilan’s economic development plan, he said Lukut-Tanah Merah, Port Dickson will also be developed as a logistics hub not only for Malaysia but also for Southeast Asia and Asia to meet the needs of the growing online business sector.
On economic development in the services and manufacturing sectors, Mohamad Rafie said the state government planned to develop the halal industry hub, which is currently concentrated in the Enstek Industrial Park in the Nilai district, with emphasis on medical tourism.
“We are working to develop a halal industry hub in Enstek, which currently has halal-based Coca-Cola, Kellogg's, stevia sweetener factories... Besides the food and beverage sector, we want to make this place a halal industry hub in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical sector. We are in discussions with the developer on this matter.
“As for the service industry, one of our emphasis is medical tourism and we are looking at suitable areas to develop medical tourism," he said.
On the ECRL and HSR projects, Mohamad Rafie said the infrastructure facilities would definitely stimulate the state’s development and economic growth.
“For ECRL, two stations are expected to be built -- in Nilai and Titi, Jelebu. For Nilai, we have proposed that the station becomes not only a passenger station but also a freight station where cargo facilities can facilitate and minimise the transportation of goods for exports through Port Klang.
"As for HSR, we have planned to develop a transit-oriented development that will be built as one of the stops of the trains from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore travelling at a speed of 320 kilometres per hour.
“I really hope Negeri Sembilan can become one of the developed states as we are not far from the Klang Valley.
“We want to improve the living standards of the people and this is a challenge for us because it is our Key Performance Indicator whether we succeed or not.
“We feel very uncomfortable as Negeri Sembilan is not far from the Klang Valley and has a household income of RM5,055 which is below the national average of RM5,873,” he said.
With tremendous opportunities to capitalise on, Mohamad Rafie said the state needs more educational institutions, not only academic institutes but also technical and skill institutes, while existing ones need to be strengthened to cater to its manpower needs.