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Penjana recovery plan - A highly Digital initiative

On 5th June, the Prime Minister of Malaysia released his much anticipated economic stimulus package, the 'Penjana' short term recovery plan (Penjana Semula Ekonomi Negara). This represented stage 4, Recovery, of a 6 point overall grand plan and is easily the most sophisticated and fare reaching to date. From an outsider perspective, I have to say I was extremely impressed by their far comprehensive nature in terms of boosting the job market and, more specifically, the extent to which digital is to play a central role in the plan.

The objective of this stage of the process was stated very clearly:

‘Focused on completing the nation’s current journey from Restart to Recovery by rolling out a set of strategic initiatives to propel forward the nation’s economic growth.’

The Recovery phase is to consist of 3 areas: Empower People, Propel business and Stimulate economy. Looking at each area in turn, the following provisions truly stick out as directly impacting the Digital Economy in a positive way:

Empower people

  • RM1.5 billion investment in Hiring and Training Assistance for Businesses - financial assistance to employers for hiring grads (RM600/month) and unemployed (RM800/month) and RM4000 training allowance

  • RM2 billion investment in Reskilling and Upskilling Programmes - to include ICT

  • Gig Economy Social Protection and Skilling - MDEC to be provided RM25 million for the GLOW (global online workforce) program, which allows Malaysians to earn money working from home online

  • Internet Connectivity for Education & Productivity - Free 1GB from 8am-6pm - which represents a huge RM3 billion investment!

Propel business

  • Micros and SMEs E-commerce Campaign - RM70 million package to shift micro companies on lime supported by MDEC

  • “Shop Malaysia Online” for Online Consumption - RM70 million package providing vouchers to encourage on line consumption

  • Technical and Digital Adoption for SMEs and MTCs - RM700 million package to help digitize business operations of SMEs

  • MyAssist MSME One Stop Shop - RM5 million guidance and advisory platform

  • Spur Set Up of New Businesses - RM300 million package offering 20K/annum tax breaks per annum for the next 3 years!

Stimulate economy

  • Technology Innovation Sandbox - RM80 million package to help drive innovation in deregulated setting, eg fintech;

  • Digitalisation of Government Service Delivery - RM20 million package to digitize delivery of government services;

  • ePenjana Credits in e-wallet - RM750 million package to top up e-wallets to drive digital adoption!

The nature of these benefits really do speak for themselves as far as Malaysia's commitment to long term commercial competitive interests are concerned. There’s also considerable evidence of the government’s interest in enhancing the economy through Digital, to not only boost the economy, but to help society and business evolve through digital adoption. In fact, quantifying the above, we can pinpoint approximately RM8.6 billion in cash injection to ‘pure play’ digital initiatives alone. There’s also great news for startups looking for a softer platform both financially and from a regulatory stance to catalyze innovation as well as MNCs looking to set up shop here, which will continue to drive Malaysia’s role as a mid range global cost effective ICT services hub.

I’m looking forward to witnessing how the combined impact of these benefits start to take effect in terms of an economic bounce back for the country, or in Perjana terms, the 5th and 6th Revitalise and Reform stages of the process to be completed in the second half of 2020. From my perspective, the future looks bright and we are already seeing a thawing of the digital job market as growth strategies resume in the light of a rebuilding of employer confidence, so these far reaching reforms can only be good news for all at this stage.

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