Technology players said to be among businesses most receptive to Budget 2021

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KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 22): The Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated the importance of technology and innovation to ensure the people's well-being and business sustainability, and Budget 2021 is placing a great emphasis on these aspects.

It is therefore of little surprise that technology players are among the most enthusiastic supporters of the budget, which is currently being debated in the Dewan Rakyat and is scheduled for voting in Parliament in a few days' time.

Perikatan Nasional's maiden budget has a raft of technology-focused measures ranging from improving digital connectivity to promoting investments in high-value-added and green technologies.

Ko Chuan Zen, co-founder and chief executive officer of solar photovoltaic solutions provider Plus Solar Sdn Bhd, said the budget's proposed measures would facilitate economic recovery for the people's well-being, including through allocations for the development of a more sustainable and knowledgeable Malaysia.

"Though tabled, the budget's approval hinges on getting parliamentary approval. At the same time, Malaysia's renewable energy sector finds itself at a critical juncture.

"Several initiatives and allocations under the budget, such as the first Sustainability Bond in Malaysia for environmental and social initiatives, will position Malaysia as a regional hub for a sustainable lifestyle," he told Bernama.

Ko said the bonds, which are loans used to finance projects that bring clear environmental and social-economic benefits, will help sustain the industry at this difficult time.

Furthermore, he said, the RM2 billion allocation under the Green Technology Financing Scheme (GTFS) for two years up to 2022 is a great initiative, especially for companies which plan to invest in green technology.

"Commercial and industrial sectors stand to benefit from the GTFS," he said, noting that the main criteria include the company or business must be at least a 51%-owned legal Malaysian entity.

"Given that commercial and industrial buildings stand to save the most in terms of energy bills, the RM1 billion allocation for the Industrial Digital Transformation Scheme can potentially assist these businesses to adopt internet-of-things technology which can help make energy consumption more intelligent," he said.

Hence, he said, Budget 2021 needs to be approved in due time, with open conversation from all parties to ensure that priority is given for the financial allocations to address the Covid-19 pandemic crisis and revitalise the economy as well as for the nation's overall political stability.

Meanwhile, Halal Street UK (HST), an e-marketplace for Malaysian products in the United Kingdom, said the proposed budget is positive as it addresses problems and challenges that cut across all sectors of the society while cushioning the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It applauded the government's move of allocating RM1 billion to accelerate the adoption of digitalisation under the digital transformation scheme and additional funds of RM150 million which will be provided under the SME Digitalisation Grant Scheme and the Automation Grant.

"Sufficient initiatives and incentives have been announced towards supporting businesses, especially among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are still reeling from the impact of the pandemic, to move to e-commerce.

"The RM35 million being allocated to promote Malaysian-made goods and services under the Trade and Investment Mission is certainly helpful for the SMEs to recover from their losses and have a bigger market reach by going global," it said.

HST said all entrepreneurs should therefore take these opportunities that will definitely benefit them in the long run and assist them in riding out the economic storm as well as empowering the digital and gig economy.

Meanwhile, Ericsson Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh head David Hagerbro said investment in expanding critical digital infrastructure and innovative services while democratising internet access will be key drivers for Malaysia's recovery and economic growth.

"We strongly support the government's efforts to upgrade network connections across 430 schools within the country covering all states with a RM500 million allocation for the National Digital Network initiative (JENDELA).

"Additionally, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission's assignment of RM7.4 billion in 2021 to 2022 to expand broadband connectivity is a sure step in the right direction for quality coverage," he said.

Hence, he believes that the successful roll-out of 5G hinges on the great incentives and provisions within Budget 2021, which will pave the way for the government, businesses, and citizens to deliver groundbreaking solutions to the pandemic that can reach all levels of society.