LABUAN: A bridge to connect Labuan island and mainland Sabah is set to be a reality as Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (pic) announced a Labuan Development Blueprint to transform the international financial centre.
The Prime Minister agreed that the bridge was a necessity to spur the economic growth of the island currently hit by international oil and gas downturn.
“The Government had given approval for a feasibility study to be conducted.
“It is not just a feasibility study for a bridge but a study on how best the implementation method should be,” he said at the Carnival Rakyat, where he launched the Labuan Development Blueprint 2018-2030, Labuan Business Financial Transformation Plan and the Labuan Sea Grandprix.
Najib said he hoped that the feasibility study would be completed soon as many on the island have been looking forward to a bridge to connect with the mainland.
He said critics have said that the cost of the bridge was not viable in terms of rates of return, but the bridge would be a catalyst for the people and the island as it would draw more investments and spur tourism further.
The duty free island’s status as an international offshore financial centre would also be transformed into an international and business financial centre, he added.
“As an international financial centre, Labuan has grown and become well known in the Asia Pacific region.
“The plan will look at strengthening the offshore financial services and integrate them with the local economy,” he said.
Najib said that the economic modernisation of Labuan was necessary as the recent oil and gas downturn had affected the people.
Najib also launched two housing projects at the event.
He said 500 units of flats would be built under the People’s Housing Project at Batu Arang for people to rent at RM124 monthly or purchase outright at a price of RM42,000.
“The actual value is about RM133,000, but the Government is subsiding it,” he said, adding that another 165 houses at Tanjung Purun at the price of RM190,000 – about 40% less than the market value – were being built for civil servants to own.
The Prime Minister was confident that with the support of the people and political will, the new initiatives would be a game changer for Labuan.