National Budget 2017 – MDEC’s Budget Commentary
We are delighted that Budget 2017 is focused on accelerating growth and enhancing the wellbeing of the Rakyat. A key driver to the economy in the years to come will be in the area of Digital Economy.
As Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak recently announced, 2017 is set to be the year of the Internet Economy. For Malaysia to build a vibrant Digital Economy, digital inclusivity is vital as our people are the key drivers to the larger economy.
The eRezeki and eUsahawan initiatives were launched last year to target key communities such as youth, SMEs, digital entrepreneurs and the B40, with an initial allocation of RM100 million. These initiatives have benefited 100,000 Malaysians and we expect more people to benefit in the coming years. With the Government allocating RM100 million, we will be able to drive these initiatives further and encourage greater cross collaboration to support our nation’s digital inclusion programmes.
The measures announced under Budget 2017 will definitely help us seize the opportunity in capitalising on the Internet Economy. Our forecast reveals that we need one million digital workers, such as coders, application developers and software engineers, by 2025. We are pleased for the support for Digital Maker Movement, i.e. the initiative to identify and nurture young talents to be future digital innovators. It includes the move by Ministry of Education to incorporate computational thinking and computer science in schools from January next year, and private sector and academia support to further nurture these bright young talents.
The Digital economy offers unprecedented opportunities. All across the globe, governments, businesses and industries are respective of its scale and its impact on the economy. The Digital economy has been consistently increasing its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and creating opportunities for people and businesses. And I am pleased to see that our Prime Minister recognises that Broadband is one of the key components that contributes to the nation’s Digital economy growth. We welcome the allocation of RM1 billion to increase the coverage and quality of broadband to Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). Equally important, is the decision to double the broadband speed at half the price in 2 years’ time, shows governments appreciation of faster digital connectivity at an affordable price within today’s Digital Economy.
Budget 2017 also offers the start-up community the much needed support of an ecosystem that suits the nature of their business. With the implementation of Malaysia Digital Hubs, they can now enjoy the full benefits of the MSC Bill of Guarantees, including tax incentives. In tandem with growing the local startup community in Malaysia, efforts to attract Foreign Knowledge Tech Entrepreneurs to Malaysia will definitely catalyse the nation’s growth.
We will also be the first country in the world to introduce the Digital Free Trade Zone. For the first time, the world will have a physical and virtual zones with additional online and digital services to facilitate international eCommerce and invigorate internet based-innovation.
With these measures, we look set to make the most out of the Internet Economy next year; and take a step closer to becoming a fully sustainable developed digital economy nation.