Chan Kee Siak

Internet Alliance: Abolish Withholding Tax for Cloud-First Strategy to Succeed

Internet Alliance (‘IA’), a not-for-profit organisation that facilitates about 85% of Malaysia’s active Internet scene, lauds the “Cloud-First” strategy for government agencies and public sector to boost the digital economy.

Announced by the Prime Minister just before the upcoming Budget 2018, “Cloud-First” would become part of the National Agenda, starting with the public sector.

The “Cloud-First” strategy fundamentally involves the adoption of cloud for government agencies to rapidly deliver innovative public sector services without incurring high levels of capital expenditure to invest in the IT infrastructure such as data centres, services and storage.

President of IA, Chan Kee Siak says:-

We at IA, are thrilled that the government recognises how the cloud is fundamental to digital transformation. The Cloud has become a powerful and cost-efficient method to deliver ICT solutions and services to support the economy. Therefore, prioritising government agencies to adopt Cloud-based ICT solutions, sets a strong example of how to free from the high costs of initial equipment investments.”

Call to Lower or Exempt Withholding Tax for Cloud & Digital Adoption

At the same time, Chan calls on the government to consider lowering or exempting withholding tax for local organisations wanting to adopt Cloud or other Digital Services.

He says that currently, Malaysian companies and organisations which want to adopt Cloud technologies or deploy Digital Services by foreign vendors – have to pay an additional 10% withholding tax on top of the fees they already have to pay to foreign Cloud providers.

“Some common instances of Malaysian companies incurring this additional 10% withholding tax are when a) Advertising with Google and Facebook b) Subscribing to overseas’ Software-as-a-Services (SaaS) and/or foreign Cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Alibaba Cloud c) Purchasing software licenses.

If the “Cloud-First” strategy is to be a successful National Agenda, there should be economic incentive to boost it too. Therefore, IA highly suggests that by lowering or even abolishing this additional withholding tax for Malaysian businesses, they will feel incentivized to accelerate their adoption of Cloud-based services and digital services.

Buy More Local Cloud Services

Chan also encourages  that local government agencies and businesses to engage services from local Malaysian Cloud providers, be it Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud models.

Together with the implementation of strategic taxation policies such as reducing or abolishing this withholding tax, encouraging public agencies to adopt a ‘Buy-Local’ mentality will also collectively boost the ‘Cloud-First‘ towards a higher rate of success under the National Agenda.”

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