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Monday, April 5, 2010

Malaysia's building sector on the right track

The Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) is optimistic that the country's construction industry will achieve world-class status by 2015.

Its chief executive officer Datuk Hamzah Hasan said based on the Construction Industry Master Plan 2006-2015, the sector is on track to reach its target.

The growing number of Malaysian companies embarking on projects overseas over the last two decades provides a further boost to this.

Majority of the projects are in the Middle East and North Africa, mainly in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Libya.
The Middle East is the largest market where 51 projects worth some RM30 billion are ongoing.

"This is more than India where we have 23 ongoing projects valued around RM7 billion and 22 projects in Asean worth RM5.7 billion. The numbers are increasing," Hamzah told Business Times.

"We have been instilling confidence among our construction players that they are at par with or even better than their counterparts internationally. This has made them more willing to venture overseas.

"The challenge overseas is to maintain the competitive advantage over time. This is because any competitive advantage as a result of cost, better work process and easy access to funds is easily overtaken by the locals," Hamzah said.

Master Builders Association Malaysia president Ng Kee Leen said issues affecting local construction firms overseas are track record and funding.

"There are not many mega projects in Malaysia for the companies to build a track record so they embark on overseas projects in a joint venture with the locals to build their portfolio," Ng said.

"When you have another partner, it is very tough. It will be good if Malaysian firms can bid alone for projects overseas," he added.

Ng said funding was an issue because banks in Malaysia were not willing to support the contractors as they were sceptical about overseas projects.

"We hope Malaysian banks will set up branches in the Middle East and North Africa to support our contractors." he said.

By Business Times (by Sharen Kaur)

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