"It is not an option for us to remain where we are. We must embrace the new reality, change course and design a new strategy for our industry. Or else we will perish. We are in this as a community."
Articulated by the Chairman of Labuan Financial Services Authority (Labuan FSA) Tan Sri Muhammad Ibrahim, during his speech at the Labuan Industry Annual Dinner 2017 recently, when he urged the industry players and regulators to play a more contributing role in the economic development of Labuan island.
Although Labuan is a known destination for financial services in the region, the spillover effect on the local community can certainly be enhanced, whilst ensuring that the standards of regulatory, supervisory and transparency requirements of a leading international business and financial centre is met. In fact, this applies even more pertinently to Labuan IBFC as it is a well-regarded midshore centre with a strong proposition as a substance-enabling jurisdiction, especially for businesses in the Asia Pacific region.
A much needed diversification strategy for Labuan and the IBFC
A "continuous reinvention of financial offerings" is important for Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (Labuan IBFC) to stand resilient and to remain relevant in the market today. Hence, it is imperative for the centre to build its niche and gain international prominence. Indeed, this need for reinvention is not limited to the financial services sector but to Labuan island as a whole, in order for it to "horizontally diversify its economic base". The aim is to have a fine-tuned economic model that gives "equal weight" towards the development of an inclusive and sustainable economic ecosystem in Labuan, this would be the back bone of Labuan's reinvention and economic diversification.
A key-enabler to this ambition would be the availability of soft and hard infrastructure, facilitated by convenient connectivity, all these elements working hand in hand to play an important role in the reinvention of Labuan's real economy. Therefore, the recent announcement of a feasibility study towards the development of a bridge connecting Labuan and Sabah mainland during the recent Malaysian Budget was very much welcomed by all on the island.
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