Malaysia mulls to woo foreign investors for a high-tech hub

Malaysian State plans to provide more incentives to woo foreign investors to boost the competitiveness of its high-tech business zone, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Thursday.

Styled after California's Silicon Valley, the Multimedia Super Corridor or MSC for short is a 750 square kilometer (300 square mile) zone in and around Kuala Lumpur that offers tax breaks and grants to information technology companies and researchers.

The government is "re-examining the package of incentives that we offer to make the MSC a more compelling choice for investors," said Abdullah at the opening a two-day annual meeting of the zone's international advisory panel. He did not give details.

Abdullah also said the government will set up a high-tech talent development institute to "plug any gaps in the supply" of locally-hired workers, and increase funding to encourage local tech entrepreneurs to expand their business.

Begun nine years ago, the tech hub was the brainchild of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who wanted to transform Malaysia into a developed nation by 2020.

It runs from the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur to the international airport south of the city. The centerpiece is Cyberjaya, a so-called "cyber city" with a high-speed telecommunications infrastructure set amid oil palm plantations just south of the capital.

According to government figures, the MSC spurred sales in the information, communication and technology industries to rise 8.3 percent to more than US$1.6 billion (Ђ1.3 billion) last year.

Abdullah said the MSC has also developed a strong niche as a regional outsourcing hub, with 48 multinational companies operating there, and creating some 11,200 jobs, reports the AP.

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