The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) believes the measures announced in the 2021 Budget speech are a clear reflection of the Government’s focus on ensuring the rapidly growing digital economy needs are met and local businesses are able to digitalise quickly. This is to address the immediate challenges brought on by COVID-19, an unprecedented event that forcefully shifted people and businesses to digital technologies and solutions for all their daily routines.
The measures are welcomed especially as Budget 2021 is perceived as the most challenging ever to be tabled due to the pandemic and economic slowdown it caused.
Budget 2021 shines the spotlight on the Government’s ongoing efforts to improve the digital skills of all Malaysians and their marketability in a competitive workforce. The end-goal: to digitally empower Malaysian society.
With its theme – “Teguh Kita, Menang Bersama”, which translates to “In Our Strength, Lies Our Collective Victory” – the tabling of Budget 2021 by the Minister of Finance, YB Senator Dato’ Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, revealed how Malaysia plans to allocate RM322.5 billion towards sustaining the country’s economy. This mostly includes significant measures being channelled to the continued growth of its digital economy.
“I believe this is now the time for businesses to embrace the opportunity to pivot and scale operations with digital technology. MDEC will intensify our outreach programmes and field research work to develop the best solutions that will help Malaysian citizens and businesses take on the challenges they now face during this unprecedented period,” said Datuk Wira Dr. Hj. Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff, Chairman of MDEC.
“The allocation of RM100 million to drive talent development is necessary as it will help facilitate the transition of Malaysia’s existing workforce into the digital economy, a constantly evolving marketplace that places heavy emphasis on digital skills. This will directly help to fulfil the growing demands of the booming Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. With the strong foundation that MDEC purposefully built over the years and the comprehensive digital economy framework that is now being developed, we will power Malaysia’s digital economy forward and push it towards embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The objective here is to make Malaysia a digital-first nation and further accelerate its economic growth to ensure there is shared prosperity for all,” he added.
Improving the Marketability of Digitally-Skilled Malaysians
According to Surina Shukri, CEO, MDEC, the RM100 million allocation from Budget 2021 will enable MDEC to continue its programmes that focus on nurturing more digitally-skilled Malaysian talents and improving their marketability via targeted job-matching processes, both of which will open doors to various digital career opportunities.
“MDEC will continue to work closely with the respective ministries, agencies and strategic partners to support various digital talent development programmes. In addition to the initiatives we have for students and graduates from our Premier Digital Tech Institutions (PDTI), other programmes like the Digital Skills Training Directory and #MYDigitalWorkForce Movement will also be expanded. Of course, this includes other skill development related institutions. In fact, just recently, MDEC organised the #MyDigitalworkforce Week – an event saw more than 10,000 applications being submitted for proper digital-based job opportunities.
Driving Forward Digitally-Powered Businesses
Surina also shared how MDEC will continue to support businesses through automation and digitalisation activities. This includes upcoming initiatives that come under the 2021 Budget, such as the SME Digitalisation Grant Scheme; Smart Automation Grant (SAG) for service providers and StartUps; and Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Digitalisation initiatives. With the other digital-focused allocations from the 2021 Budget, more will be done for the Shop Malaysia Online and eCommerce initiatives, and ongoing programmes to further digitalise the agricultural sector under the Ladang e-Satelit programme.
Attracting More Digital Investments
As for some of the other positive measures in the 2021 Budget, extension of tax relief will help maintain existing investments and attract even more for next year, especially from Big Tech.
“This will further boost MDEC’s focus investment areas in catalytic 4IR areas such as drone technology and Internet of Things innovation, and digital creative content development – all of which have strengthened confidence of investors and continue to attract digital investments into Malaysia. These successes further solidify Malaysia’s position as the Heart of Digital ASEAN,” she added.