JOHOR BAHRU: The Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) said the RM690 million allocation for five economic development corridors, including for Iskandar Malaysia, reflected the federal government's effort to reduce the development gap between urban and rural areas.

Welcoming the recent Budget 2022 announcement, chief executive Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said the allocations announced for various projects, programmes and initiatives will also benefit the people in the Iskandar Malaysia economic region.

In line with the job creation efforts in the economic corridor of southern Johor, he commended the "Jamin Kerja Keluarga Malaysia" initiative of the budget to ensure the provision of 600,000 job opportunities with an allocation of RM4.8 billion.

In Iskandar Malaysia, the Employment Grant (IMEG) in the form of a matching grant has created 1,811 job opportunities in 252 companies, involving 65 percent of the manufacturing sector and 35 percent of the services sector with 70 percent of them filled by women.

"Those who also benefited were participants from the group of people with disabilities, retirees, unemployed graduates and retrenched workers," IRDA said in a statement here today.

On the RM40 billion allocation under the "Semarak Niaga Keluarga Malaysia" initiative, Ismail said the package is expected to benefit businesses of all sizes, such as micro, small and medium businesses (MSMEs) throughout the country, including in Iskandar Malaysia.

"The MSME sector is the heart of economic growth and national development and the decision to provide various facilities and assistance as well as injection of funds for them to remain resilient in the face of this very challenging post-pandemic economic environment is much needed," he said in the same statement.

A special strategic investment fund of up to RM2 billion to attract strategic foreign investments by multinational companies, as well as for the development of opportunities for local SMEs, would also benefit Iskandar Malaysia, he added.

Ismail also welcomed the opening of a RM10 million one-stop centre in Johor next year for the arrival of short-term business visitors from Singapore.