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Malaysia Budget 2019 measures lauded

After many long, apprehension-filled months, the Budget 2019 for Malaysia was finally announced, garnering positive reviews from almost everyone who read it.

According to a recent report, several tech specialists reported being generally positive about the Budget.

e-Commerce, tech and logistics players are generally positive on the series of proposed policies and investments for the development of Industry 4.0, as announced during National Budget 2019.

Measures such as the ‘Industry Digitalisation Transformation Fund’, ‘National Fiber Connectivity Plan’ and other policies will not only boost the growth of Malaysia’s digital economy but aid small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well.

The CEO of a major regional integrated telecommunications infrastructure services company stated that the government’s commitment to enabling greater connectivity throughout the nation and efforts to develop the country’s infrastructure for broadband is laudable. He added that as operators continue to connect fibre to homes, there is also a need to extend fibre to other infrastructures in Malaysia, especially if the nations seeks to be 5G-ready. With approximately just 30 to 40 per cent of towers in the country integrated with fibre, it is crucial the nation is equipped with the right telecommunication infrastructure.

The expert note that to meet price and speed aspirations decision-makers need to encourage more infrastructure sharing and adoption of fixed wireless access. The current tower infrastructure is still relatively under fiberised. He note that funds can be used to promote connectivity, which has a more immediate impact on access and speed, especially in rural areas.

Meanwhile, an e-commerce platform welcomed the government’s efforts to further drive the digital economy forward and bring more entrepreneurs nationwide into the digital space. With the company’s CEO stating that the allocation of RM4.5 billion with 60 per cent guarantee of SJPP (Skim Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan) to commercially finance SMEs resonates with the company’s commitment to empowering local sellers in growing their businesses.

The CEO also applauded the government’s decision to reduce fixed line broadband prices by the end of 2018 and allocate RM1 billion for the National Fibre Connectivity Plan to boost internet connectivity in rural areas within five years, pointing out that rural connectivity is essential to grow the next generation of rural entrepreneurs from previously unconnected areas.

It is hope that with this programme, more entrepreneurs can be uplifted and rural buyers’ access to cheaper online products will increase, in turn, improving their welfare.

With regards to the logistics companies that are also involved in the last-mile delivery for the e-Commerce industry, an major logistics company with a branch in Malaysia believed that the policies and investments announced for Budget 2019 could contribute to a positive growth outlook for the nation, especially through the support of local SMEs.

They lauded the focus the government has placed in stimulating growth for SMEs. Initiatives such as the RM 2 billion worth of and takaful facilities by EXIM bank; RM100 million to upgrade the capability of the SMEs in the SME halal export industry; and RM1 billion for the SME Shariah Compliant Financing Scheme; will aid more SMEs to increase competitiveness in an increasingly challenging business environment.

Adding that local SMEs should look at optimising these facilities to broaden their horizons beyond the local market and explore opportunities to export their product to the international market.

Echoing this view, another tech company commended measures such as the Industry Digitalisation Transformation Fund as well as the Business Loan Guarantee Scheme to help SMEs invest in automation and modernisation.

Meanwhile, a cybersecurity solutions company noted that as Malaysia embarks on its journey to develop its digital economy, it urged businesses to be ready in terms of its cybersecurity. The firm’s managing director stated that Malaysia continues to embark on a digital transformation journey, it must remember that cybersecurity makes a crucial component in enabling innovations.

Adding that in the Industry 4.0 era, enterprises not only need to worry about the usual business disrupters such as natural disasters, adverse publicity, and loss of key personnel among others, but also increasingly sophisticated cyberthreats targeting critical infrastructure and the smart devices that we use to virtually control them.

The MD urged businesses to regard cybersecurity as a prerequisite to capture the potential value enabled by digitisation. He recommended that organisations start taking a more integrated approach to security to mitigate future risks while staying abreast of the latest in cybersecurity.

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