Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Othman Aziz says the Special Border Economic Zone in Bukit Kayu Hitam is vital in order to boost the nation’s economy. Pic by MOHD FADLI HAMZAH.

AYER HITAM: The Special Border Economic Zone in Bukit Kayu Hitam as announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak during the tabling of 2018 Budget is expected to drive the country forward in the international industrial sector.

Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Othman Aziz described the development as imperative in order for Malaysia to boost its economy by tapping into the booming economic activities in southern Thailand.

"The move is crucial to ensure the country can move at par with Southeast Asia's countries in the industrial sectors," he said at a press conference after launching Jerlun Parliamentary 'One Community One Road Transport Department' programme on Saturday.

Yesterday, Najib announced that the development of the Special Border Economic Zone di Bukit Kayu Hitam into a Free Trade Zone will serve as a new attraction for domestic and foreign investors and further boost the economic activities in the northern region.

It was reported that the state government was confident that the proposed Bukit Kayu Hitam duty-free township would become a game changer and transform the Malaysian-Thai border town into the next Iskandar Malaysia.

State Industry and Investment Committee chairman Datuk Dr Ku Abdul Rahman Ku Ismail was quoted as saying that this is due to the strategic location of Bukit Kayu Hitam which is just across the border from Sadao, in Thailand.

On another note, Othman, who is also the Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) chairman, said the monthly aid of RM200 for three months for paddy farmers as they wait for their yields, would ease the burden of about 57,000 Mada farmers in Kedah and Perlis.

He added that the allocation amounting to RM150 million for the monthly aid is proof that the government is concerned about these farmers' welfare.

"The farmers under Mada would receive the aid through the Farmers Associations in their respective areas.

"However, for those outside Mada, the relevant authorities will come out with a mechanism to identify them in order to channel the aid," he said.

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