PHOTO - Woon Tai Hai, chairman, PIKOM (National ICT Industry Association of Malaysia).
The national ICT industry association of Malaysia, PIKOM, has submitted a Budget 2013 memorandum to the Ministry of Finance, which includes the recommendation to retain English as the medium of instruction for Maths and Science as well as to equip graduates with essential soft skills.
PIKOM chairman Woon Tai Hai, said: "Our Budget 2013 Memorandum to the Ministry of Finance on May 7 was followed by our attending the Budget Consultation with the Prime Minister on May 29. In the memorandum, PIKOM raised a number of issues and recommendations in the areas of Industry Development, Human Capital development, Trade Development, Measure and Monitoring mechanism and Economic liberalisation."
As part of the human capital development recommendations, PIKOM's wishlist also asked for a provision of financial incentives for private universities and colleges to run ICT specialisation courses including to university student to pursue English courses from accredited institutions. The Ministry of Education (MoE) also needed to strengthen Bahasa Malaysia for ICT technology and ICT driven content development activities to meet the opportunities in the regional market.
Woon said in the industry development category, 'the promotion of e-services needs to be further enhanced. We recommend fiscal and monetary measures to boost the uptake. These include the removal of service tax for ICT services for two years with the objective to promote emerging new technologies including providing incentive such as double tax deductions and depreciation allowances to corporate to automate and convert to e-services for their customers.'
In addition, a more regularised fee structure should be set up for all the financial institutions so that the cost of using e-services can be maintained and government agencies can promote e-government services by providing incentives for the public to use them, he said.
Globalising Malaysian ICT
According to PIKOM, the size of the Malaysian ICT industry is only RM60 billion (US$20 billion), less than one percent of the global total. "As Malaysia moves into the developed nation league, our growth rate would slow down. A specific measure to tap high growth markets such as identifying trade leads, business opportunities and partnerships is required," said Woon.
"We propose to allow the Market Development Grant [MDG] to be used by associations like PIKOM to set up offices and operations in potential market segments overseas to provide requisite content, administrative, logistics and operational services to support Malaysian ICT companies starting there," he said. "Allow such application of the MDG continuously for at least three years until the overseas operation become self-sustaining; then set aside a specific amount for undertaking market and industry intelligence gathering through industry bodies like PIKOM, especially using the Market Development Grants of MATRADE [national trade promotion agency]."
"It is also timely for the government to consider reviewing and realigning the national statistical system so that Malaysia has regular and standardised official statistics on information age development phenomena, said Woon."This is in support of the Digital Economy Satellite Account, which is being formulated under the Digital Malaysia programme. With that, information about the industry is tracked, monitored, analysed and reported on a regular basis."
"Malaysia has been at the forefront of liberalisation with the Prime Minister announcing various measures to liberalise the economy and allowing foreign participation in selected sectors of the economy," said Woon. "This included the ICT sector. In this day and age, we should not have duties in excess of 25 percent except for very limited sensitive products. This goes against the grain of liberalisation which we have been promulgating. A case in point is monitors not incorporating television reception apparatus under the code 8528 59 000 which attracts 25 percent duty."
"We propose to remove duties on items under 8528 59 000. This will augurs well as we lead in multilateral negotiations at WTO [World Trade Organisation] level. We practice what we preach and keep our duties low. Further, this also prepares the industry and consumers on the GST [government service tax] with low [or zero] tariff," he said.
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