New Straits Times, 13 May 2011 - Johor seeing first fruits of Iskandar development

New Straits Times, 13 May 2011

Upswing in prices a windfall for people with land and properties in the state

The development of Iskandar Malaysia (IM) is benefiting Johoreans "profoundly", says Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman.

While its rollout has increased demand and prices of properties across the board, he said it has also led to higher wages, improved business opportunities and better living standards for ordinary folk.

"Ordinary people are beginning to enjoy the fruits of IM projects and the massive injection to boost infrastructure facilities here," he said.

Over the past five years, the federal government allocated a whopping RM6.83 billion to construct highways, public infrastructure and other amenities under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP), while under 10MP (2011-2015), it budgeted an additional RM1.38 billion.

Taking the cue, the state government set aside RM313.33 million under its 2010 Budget to develop a host of infrastructure projects.

Ghani said almost all the planned IM projects have economic elements designed to boost productivity and efficiency, impact the local economy and improvie quality of life.

"The highway projects, for instance, will significantly improve accessibilitiy and connectivity and help open new business hubs, while creating more jobs and contributing to the distribution of wealth."

He noted that several private sector projects , derailed by the global financial crisis, are now also starting to come onstream.

Indeed, Johor is now regarded as a key earnings contributor by many public listed property developers, most of which now have projects in IM.

"IM has been the big booster for Johor's property sector," Ghani pointed out, adding that other contributing factors have been the state's linkage with neighbouring Singapore as well as the relocation of the State Administrative centre to Kota Iskandar near Nusajaya in 2009, which helped to catalyse a number of prestige projects, including the up-and-coming Legoland theme park.

"With the coming onstream of big-name projects, IM has impacted the property sector by creating new demand for high-end residential properties.

"Virtually every new property launch here is now pegged above the RM250,000 price ceiling... this was a strictly niche segment a few years ago."

Among the new developments being undertaken are UEM Land Holdings Bhd's Ledang Heights and Ledang East, the Danga Island luxury villas, Walker Corp of Australia's Senibong Cove residential scheme and Dijaya Corp Bhd's proposed development of prime waterfront land in Danga Bay.

Established listed companies such as SP Setia Bhd, Bandar Raya Developments Bhd, Mah Sing Group Bhd, IOI Properties Bhd, Asiatic Development Bhd and Hua Yang Bhd have also made their mark in IM by improving lifestyle quality.

Meanwhile, several shophouse projects in IM's eastern corridor, which were shelved by their developers because of poor demand, are now also seeing a resurgence in interest.

"Prices are on the upswing and this is a winfall for people with land and properties in JP," said Ghani.