Labuan’s Connectivity Needs To Be Improved To Unlock Its Vast Potential

Labuan International Airport - many say it is underutlised.
Labuan International Airport – many say it is under-utilised.

LABUAN -There is a need to elevate the level of connectivity between Labuan, the rest of Malaysia and the region to better facilitate economic and financial linkages.

Bank Negara Governor Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim said as an international financial centre, connectivity is one of the most important measures of competitiveness.

“Connectivity increases the probability of success. If we harbor ambitious plans and aspirations for Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (Labuan IBFC), we need to continue expanding its role in facilitating cross-border investment and financial flows and we need to improve infrastructure,” he said at the Labuan Industry Annual Dinner 2016 here Thursday night.

He said this requires additional investment in infrastructure , ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ to increase the connectivity of the island to levels comparable to the world’s leading international financial centres.

Muhammad Ibrahim, second from right, together with top Labuan financial officials at a dinner on Thursday.

“While infrastructure development on the island has come a long way since the 1990s, more can be done to enhance the connectivity between the island and mainland Sabah.

“This will greatly unlock Labuan’s vast potential and provide synergistic benefits to Sabah as well. It will create spill over benefits to sectors such as tourism and retail businesses. Perhaps several of these initiatives could include greater connectivity by sea or even a construction of a bridge with the mainland.

He was optimistic regional connectivity would be better enhanced via the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA).

“Further seaport development can also assist in diversifying Labuan’s economic model by positioning the Island as the preferred national offshore oil and gas port, and even a marine hub that houses marine-related functions (such as specialist marine insurance claims, underwriting and maritime training) given its strategic location along international trade routes.

He said investment in faster internet connection is another imperative as it will facilitate business interactions and improve general ‘liveability’.

Muhammad said overall, better connectivity would not only benefit inbound access to the centre, but also outbound access.

“Businesses based in the Island will thus enjoy access to the rest of Malaysia and neighbouring countries. More specifically, given the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community last year, there is significant potential for Labuan IBFC to tap into greater regional financial flows for economic development in the region.