Budget 2013 should look into driving Digital Malaysia aspirations

  • Govt must focus on ensuring that jobs created are filled by the right talents with the right ICT sub-specializations
  • Budget 2013 should include regulatory changes, financial incentives and tax exemptions for local SMEs to take their businesses online

Budget 2013 should look into driving Digital Malaysia aspirationsTHE Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) believes that Budget 2013 will continue the momentum of Budget 2012’s focus on innovation by pushing a more pervasive adoption of ICT (information and communication technology) and digital technologies at all levels of society.
 
This would include creating a greater number of netizens from various age groups and demographics, as well as ensuring greater usage of ICT by SMEs (small and medium enterprises) and start-ups outside of the ICT industry.
 
This is where the recently launched Digital Malaysia initiative would play a key role. Digital Malaysia will foster a cohesive digital ecosystem that connects communities globally in real time, resulting in increased Gross National Income (GNI), enhanced productivity and improved standards of living.
 
Moving forward, we would like to see technology players and financial institution leveraging on intellectual property with proper and accurate valuation of these intellectual assets. This will enable local companies, particularly SMEs, to fully capitalize on their intangible assets in the running as well as expansion of their business. These include patented products and innovative copyrighted solutions that will be used to value the net worth of their company.
 
In addition, this will provide Malaysia’s financial services institutions with the needed push to expand their market share by providing financial assistance to companies based on the value of their intellectual assets.
 
This government-backed initiative will provide catalytic incentives for industry players in its aim to transform Malaysia towards a knowledge-based digital economy. MDeC is looking forward to driving this effort in partnership with the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) as it will create the much needed intellectual property market for local technopreneurs.
 
Beyond this however, MDeC hopes that Budget 2013, will focus on the development of knowledge-based talents to match industry demands and market needs. The Digital Malaysia initiative aspires to create over 160,000 high value jobs by the year 2020. Thus, it is important for the Government to focus on complementary efforts to ensure that the jobs created are filled by the right talents with the right ICT sub-specializations that meet industrial expectations.
 
According to the McKinsey report on The Impact of the Internet on Aspiring Countries 2011, the cost of starting an online business in Malaysia is still significantly higher than in most developing countries; this could hinder our transition to a comprehensive digital economy.
 
As such, MDeC hopes that Budget 2013 will also aim to address this gap by looking at not only driving regulatory changes but also by providing greater financial incentives and tax exemptions for local SMEs to take their businesses online. This in turn will help us to achieve the target of getting an additional 100,000 Malaysian SMEs to take their businesses online by 2020.
 
Looking beyond local SMEs, we hope that the Government will help facilitate the transition of our Internet users to engage in high value and high yielding activities online.  As previously reported, while Malaysians consume the Internet more than any other forms of media, the majority of their time is spent on social networks instead of generating income through online businesses.
 
We certainly hope that in line with Digital Malaysia’s strategic thrust of transitioning Malaysians from consumers to producers of digital technologies, Budget 2013 will introduce incentives for netizens who have become digital producers – for example, tax exemptions and financial assistance for individuals setting up personal online businesses, as well as financial allocation for training and development programs to teach citizens how to use online platforms for financial gains.
 
Such efforts with the support of Budget 2013 will certainly bring us a step closer to becoming a knowledge-based digital economy by the year 2020.
 
The author is chief operations officer of Multimedia Development Corporation Berhad (MDeC), Malaysia’s national ICT agency
 
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