Wishlist: Budget 2021

The upcoming Budget 2021 session will be tabled on November 6 and the session this year is expected to be different following the healthcare crisis that have taken place.  BusinessToday speaks to business leaders and industry experts on what should considered by the government in the coming session.  

Brian Sim, Managing Director and Country Head, Kelly Services Malaysia 

Besides wage subsidies, the government should also consider granting tax exemptions to employers who participate in hiring programs designed to provide long term employment for jobseekers.  

From the employee’s perspective, upskilling should be a priority. Given the changes in the work landscape, it is important that everyone (especially jobseekers), are equipped with the skills needed to thrive in the new normal. While there are numerous initiatives already in place by the government, many jobseekers do not know of their existence. The government should focus on raising awareness on this front and encourage more Malaysians to participate in these initiatives. One example of how this can be achieved is through increased partnerships with private organisations to boost visibility and participation in government initiatives.  

We are also interested in seeing what the government has in mind for fresh graduates in the upcoming budget. One example would be to leverage on public-private partnerships to create an initiative to promote employment among fresh graduates or even provide internship opportunities could prove to be a great first step in boosting employment rates among fresh graduates. 

We also expect to see the government fully leverage its success in tackling the Covid-19 outbreak in Malaysia to boost foreign direct investment (FDI). As one of the few nations in Southeast Asia to successfully minimise the spread of Covid-19, there is a positive perception towards Malaysia among foreign investors. This is a good sign, and we would like to see what the government has in mind to tap into FDI in the coming year.  

Goh Chee Hoh, Managing Director, Trend Micro Malaysia and Nascent Countries 

While the lockdown accelerated the adoption of technology, it is important to balance this with cybersecurity awareness and a commitment to shielding organisations big and small against the actions of malicious players. We look forward to continued progress in Malaysia’s cybersecurity laws in order to deter such activities, which come at a staggering cost to organisations as well as individuals. We also hope for continued investment in human capital, developing the next generation of highly skilled cybersecurity experts to meet the demands of the digital era.  

The increased opportunities for growth brought about by digitalisation must be balanced with prudent cybersecurity defenses as a component of each organization’s digitalization roadmap. It is only through a multi-layered security approach that includes extended detection and response that businesses will be able to deter increasingly complex cyber threats. Especially in the present climate, pandemic-disrupted workplaces must be secured. 

Simon Dale, Managing Director, Southeast Asia (SEA) Adobe 

It is imperative that the government prioritises its efforts towards developing a conducive environment for the digital economy and look to digital trade as a driver of economic growth.  

Support provided by government-led programmes will set the standards and help organisations accelerate their transformation from offline to online business models. Aside from training incentives to upskill employees for digital transition – including software and applications skills required to do their work, specific support to drive adoption of cloud technologies and digital tools – such as international e-payments and e-invoicing, e-signatures and digital contracts execution – will also be timely provisions for businesses of all sizes to pivot quickly to new digital demands and scale to meet business needs. 

Premendran Pathmanathan, General Manager of Customer Data Solutions, REA Group Asia (iProperty.com.my) 

Currently, first-time home buyers will be eligible for a full stamp duty exemption on the transfer instrument and loan agreement for the first RM300,000 of the unit price (for purchases before December 31 2020) whereas purchasers of new launch residential properties will be entitled to stamp duty exemptions for units priced up to RM2.5 million.   

The government could consider extending the stamp duty exemption for subsale properties priced up to at least RM1 million, regardless of property type and to all purchasers, including first-time home buyers, upgraders, etc. Secondary market purchases represent nearly 80 percent of residential transactions in Malaysia. A more comprehensive exemption will better help ease the burden of home ownership as sometimes there is no availability of new projects in certain areas and property prices could differ greatly between areas. 

Ravi Saraogi, Co-founder and President of Uniphore APAC 

The Covid-19 pandemic has encouraged enterprises and the economy to adopt technological advancements faster than anticipated. The country’s lockdown and shift to work-from-home models forced organisations to rethink their strategies. The pandemic inevitably enabled organisations to move towards new digital transformation initiatives to remain competitive and ensure business continuity. 

We are hopeful that the upcoming Budget 2021 will incentivise the adoption of artificial intelligence and automation. It will boost the contact center industry and the overall economy. This move will allow more businesses to leverage and upgrade their existing technology in the fast-paced self-service customer service industry in Malaysia. 


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