National digitalisation, the recovery of the creative industry and sustainable government communications are the focus of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Ministry (KKMM) in Budget 2022 to ensure that no one is left behind in the digitalisation wave.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa said the government is responsible for providing infrastructure, encouraging innovation and creating an ecosystem for the people to contribute towards a higher standard of living, which can be enjoyed by everyone in Keluarga Malaysia (Malaysian Family).
He said the KKMM is confident that the RM2.625 billion allocation it is receiving under Budget 2022 can help the Malaysian Family move out of the difficulties faced throughout the Covid-19 pandemic period.
“The time has come for the government to lay a foundation for the country’s transformation to a progressive digital economy,” he said in a statement on Budget 2022 on Saturday (Oct 30).
Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, when tabling Budget 2022 in the Dewan Rakyat on Friday, said the National Digital Network (JENDELA) initiative will be intensified next year with a provision of RM700 million to continue with efforts on digital connectivity in 47 industrial areas and 630 schools, especially in rural areas.
In 2022, Annuar said, the 5G service will be expanded to 36% of high-density areas, including in main towns of Johor, Selangor, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak.
“The provision of the 5G service can create a new technological landscape and offer better and faster user experience, thus bridging the digital gap and opening up new job opportunities,” he said.
Annuar said that under the Budget, the government would increase the Digitalisation Grant Scheme initiative for small and medium enterprises to RM200 million, with RM50 million reserved for bumiputera micro-entrepreneurs in rural areas.
To intensify the digital transformation of businesses in rural areas, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission would transform 600 Malaysian Family Digital Economic Centres (PEDi) into one-stop centres for guiding micro-entrepreneurs in using digital technology.
Apart from this, the government would also introduce the Malaysia Digital Nomad programme to create a community and ecosystem for digital nomads in Malaysia by using the tourism sector as a catalyst, he said.
“Digital nomads are those who earn a living online without a permanent physical location. This group has the potential to contribute to the country’s economy, especially as tourists,” he added.
Annuar also hoped that the RM450 million allocation by the government and the RM65 million commitment by mobile service providers for the implementation of the Malaysian Family PerantiSiswa Package would ensure better digital reach for the Malaysian Family.
“Besides, the people can also benefit from the extension of the special individual income tax exemption of up to RM2,500 for purchase of handphones, computers and tablets until Dec 31, 2022,” he said.
He said the government’s concern for people with disabilities (PwD) is emphasised with the service of sign language interpreters in news bulletins of all television networks, including private stations.
“This initiative undertaken with the help of Bernama will improve access to the media for the PwD group to keep them more in tune with current news and the latest information,” he said.
Meanwhile, Annuar hoped that players and all stakeholders in the creative industry would be more active and aggressive in generating income under the new normal following the allocation of RM288 million for the industry.
He said that next year, the government would launch the RIUH Keluarga Malaysia programme through the RM20 million Investment Loan Matching Fund, which is expected to create 5,000 job opportunities.
The announcement of entertainment duty exemption for all entertainment activities, including at cinemas in all federal territories, and the extension of tourism tax exemption until Dec 31, 2022 would also bring relief to those involved, he said.
“Such efforts will definitely help in the recovery of entertainment activities, which have been badly hit. Budget 2022 will ensure that Keluarga Malaysia will continue to be protected and no one will be left behind in enjoying the country’s prosperity,” he said.