RTC GOPENG TO HELP ACCELERATE RURAL TRANSFORMATION

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IPOH, Feb 17 (Bernama) -- About four decades ago most of the villages

throughout the nation were lacking in basic amenities.

Villagers drank water from the wells, depended on kerosene lamps to light up

at night, cooked using firewood, walked on laterite roads and television was a

luxury.

All that is history now. Thanks to a government that has always been

thinking ahead in transforming the lives of the people for the better.

The transformation process was started by the second prime minister Tun

Abdul Razak Hussein through better accessibility to public amenities, greater

education opportunities, resettling rural dwellers in plantation schemes and

rolling out affirmative policies to ensure no one is left out from mainstream

development.

Though great progress has been made in achieving better living standards,

the struggle to reach out to the rural citizens is still on and this time it is

Razak''s son Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the sixth prime minister, who is leading

the charge.

In reaching out to the masses in the outback, Najib believes the Rural

Transformation Centre (RTC) proposed by the Malaysian Blue Ocean Strategy

Institute (MBOSI) could well be the holy grail.

A PLATFORM TO CHANGE THE FATE

The RTC initiative under the National Blue Ocean Strategy 4 is to serve as a

conduit for the rural communities in seeking value added activities that create

economic impact and help multiply income.

The RTC Gopeng at the Terminal Agribisnes Negara (Teman) also expected to

help balance the development in different regions.

Rural and Regional Development (KKLW) Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal

during a recent meeting with village heads in Perak at RTC Gopeng said the

centre would be the first of the many to be set up all over the nation.

"RTC will serve as the nerve centre in boosting the income and economic

activities in the rural areas. This is to be achieved by helping to open the

market for rural products including looking into the possibilities of exporting

them," he said.

KKLW and the Agriculture and Agro Based Industries ministry are the two

leading proponents in spearheading the implementation of RTCs along with the

cooperation of Higher Education Ministry, Health Ministry and Finance Ministry.

Shafie also pointed out that RTCs also serve as integrated service

centres to collect, process and distribute agricultural produce, provide banking

and insurance service, business consulting service, provide training especially

in skills, healthcare and space to conduct business.

Both the Gopeng RTC and the next RTC in Wakaf Che Yeh in Kelantan would also

serve as an important platform for the rural youngsters to seek employment and

pick up entrepreneurial skill.

ROPING IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR

KKLW''s secretary general Datuk Ibrahim Mohamad illustrated RTC Gopeng''s

outreach that extends to all those living within 100km from the centre.

RTC Gopeng is literally a one stop centre with most of the public oriented

departments - Road Transport Department (JPJ), Immigration, National

Registration Department (JPN), Federal Economic Development Foundation (YAPEIM),

Yayasan Tekun, Pos Malaysia, Health Clinic and Agro Bank - providing services.

Services of the private sector too have been roped in including of Kontena

Nasional that is to provide logistic services.

The Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority''s (Fama) Director-General

Ahmad Ishak during the initial briefing early this month highlighted that the

private sector too have a hand in bolstering the activities at RTC Gopeng.

Thus hypermarkets too would be operating at RTC where they would be

cooperating with local agricultural entrepreneurs to distribute the agricultural

produce through their network, he said.

"The cooperation among the private sector, the public and the government

machinery will help develop the nation and in the bigger picture this will

benefit the people of Perak, Cameron Highlands (Pahang), Lojing(Kelantan) and

Selangor (Sabak Bernam).

OTHER NOTABLE ATTRIBUTES OF RTC

To keep rural communities informed, the RTCs will have the 1Malaysia

Information Kiosk to provide information on the services available. RTC Gopeng

now has five such kiosks

Another notable attribute of the RTC is that it also serves as the platform

to establish value added agricultural sector.

The RTCs also play a role in training entrepreneurs in the food processing

sector to meet the quality required to penetrate global market.

The centre also provides financial help through micro credit and under the

guidelines set by the finance ministry.

RTC GOPENG CARNIVAL

In conjunction with the launch of RTC Gopeng by Prime Minister on Saturday,

Fama is set to kick off the RTC Carnival.

Fama''s Director for Perak Basri Jasmo noted that the carnival is to

highlight that the RTC also serves as the collection and marketing centre for

rural agricultural produce.

About 15 government agencies will have their counters open from 10 am to 5

pm. Among them is the Royal Malaysia Police, which is to showcase its vehicles,

arms, history and career opportunities, an air unit show, forensics and bomb

destruction demonstration.

Visitors to the carnival at RTC Gopeng can take the opportunity to shop or

get entertained by the numerous programmes.

-- BERNAMA

ZAZ CR PR INE RON

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