Budget for next year not a game-changer, says Pikom

(FMT) – The National Tech Association of Malaysia (Pikom) today said the 2021 budget seemed to be a continuation of the various Covid-19 recovery programmes currently in place.

“The budget seems too focused on the Covid-19 recovery process, which had already started in June.

“Therefore, what is being laid out is not a game-changer for Malaysia as it lacks longer-term economic transformation impetus,” Pikom chairman Danny Lee said in a statement.

He aid the focus on e-wallets and e-commerce was commendable but the measure was not wide enough to cover all segments of society.

Under the budget, tabled by Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz last Friday, the government will provide a one-off credit of RM50 to the e-wallet accounts of those aged between 18 and 20, an initiative expected to benefit more than 1.5 million youths nationwide.

There was also an allocation of RM150 million for training programmes and sales assistance as well as digital equipment for 100,000 entrepreneurs to encourage adoption of e-commerce under the e-Commerce SME and Micro SME Campaign.

This is in addition to the RM150 million to implement the Shop Malaysia Online initiative together with the e-commerce platform to encourage online spending, which Tengku Zafrul said will benefit 500,000 local sellers.

The Pikom chief pointed to some positive aspects of the budget, such as the allocation of RM27 million for cybersecurity programmes.

“The continued funding for digital transformation is also a boon which would provide continued momentum to companies embarking on their digital journey,” Lee said.

He said the budget of RM100 million for MDEC to upskill the workforce in the tech industry will complement the HRDF Penjana Initiative currently ongoing until 2022, while the RM100 million allocated for reskilling and upskilling programmes in partnership with the industry associations will continue to positively impact employability.

“We also foresee a boost in electronic and IT device purchases with the tax relief on lifestyle increased to RM3,000.”

Pikom also welcomed the move for GLCs to contribute RM150 million for the purchase of laptops for 150,000 students in 500 schools under the CERDIK fund.