MIRI: Sarawak is to work out a masterplan to ensure that the wealth and economic opportunities generated in oil-rich Miri would benefit poorer folks in the hinterlands and the highlands. Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam said the state governments Greater Miri blueprint would spell out plans on how to distribute wealth more evenly in northern Sarawak. We want Miri to help provide better opportunities for people living in the hinterland and in the highlands in the remote interior.
The social and economic development experienced in Miri now must also benefit rural folks living in the surrounding districts. People in Bario, BaKelalan, Bin-tulu and Long Lama should be able to gain from spin-offs created by the progress here, he said in a recent interview. Dr Chan, who is State Industrial Development Minister and State Agriculture Modernisation Minis-ter, said the plan would incorporate feedbacks and ideas from people living in surrounding districts and sub-districts such as Bintulu, Niah, Subis, Marudi, Long Lama, Bario, BaKelalan, Limbang and Lawas.
Miri is the hub for northern Sarawak in higher education, tourism, shopping, industries and agriculture. From the opportunities developed by these sectors here, people living in the surrounding areas can benefit by setting up supporting industries to reap the spin-offs from here. What we need is a long-term plan on how these hinterland folks can tap the benefits constantly from Miri, he said. A forum, to be chaired by Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, would be held here end of this month towards developing a Greater Miri Masterplan for 2020.
There’s something wrong with the picture. A big % of Miri isn’t as wealthy as they should be at all. Ask most small businesses and they are just barely surviving or on the verge of collapse.
This has a lot to do with the high rent rates - almost as high as in KL - but oddly enough, the volume of shoppers (ie population) is far too little to sustain. Also, the land value is too high. Ask any sensible real estate agent and they’ll tell you that if you are looking for an investment of buying house / shop and then rent it out, you might as well look elsewhere because the returns are too minimal, and initial costs are too high and return of investment too long to be worth it. (Some people still do so anyway, and doing fairly well but their return are not as fast as it should be)
Ever realise that once a shopping complex opens, another closes down (or becomes empty)? That’s the effect. Too little spending population volume to sustain the businesses. And too many businesses fighting for the same (small) market. We also have amongst the highest costs of living in the country, and at the same time, the paychecks aren’t fat enough.
Cars have alot to do with it too. In Miri, it is very common to see families that have up to three or four cars under one house. Since cars depreciate in value and are also costly in the first place, they are very expensive to upkeep, and is also the major reason Miri is ‘poor’, because mostly the money goes to pay off the bank loan rather than, say, spent at the small businesses that rotate the economy.
Tourism is good for the city, but at this moment the infrastructure has only just started. In the long run it will bode well. Industries having to do with oil and timber are more properous however, but is besides the point of my post. Those from the hinterlands will fair much better looking into these industries, but the rest of us actually can’t afford much else and are working our butts off to pay the stupid inflexible parking fines, amongst other things).