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Friday, November 1, 2013

Pikom deems Budget 2014 as fiscally responsible

Posted on 25 October 2013 - 07:56pm
Last updated on 25 October 2013 - 08:23pm
Presenna Nambiar

PETALING JAYA (Oct 25, 2013): The National ICT Association of Malaysia (Pikom) said it feels encouraged by the "fiscally responsible" budget for 2014, adding that it is a comprehensive budget that is cognisant of all the stakeholders in the country.

While the association admitted that the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) would increase costs of ICT components and products, which were previously zero-tax, and even possibly cause a dip in consumption in the early stage, in the long run the move will spur growth.

The reduction of the fiscal deficit with the aim to achieve a balance budget by 2020 and ensuring the debt to gross domestic product (GDP) does not exceed 55% are steps in the right direction.

The business community, especially the ICT sector, would view the Budget 2014 positively. This budget addresses the medium and long term needs of the nation, it said.

"We laud the government for the courage in announcing the GST," Pikom chairman Woon Tai Hai said.

"It is not an easy decision and the government has shown the resolve in implementing the GST by April 1, 2015. The measures to mitigate the effects of GST implementation were also introduced thereby providing a softer landing for businesses and consumers," he added.

While it cheers plans to widen the high-speed broadband coverage, which includes investments of RM 1.8 billion for HSBB Phase 2, RM 1.6 billion for rural areas with the building of 1,000 transmission towers, Pikom also raised concerns about the country's overall communications cost compared with neighbours in the region.

"It is also happy that the budget also focused on entrepreneurship development which is the lifeline to small and medium enterprises and will lead to higher job creation. The budget allocated to Malaysia Global Innovation and Creative Centre (Magic) and the development programmes by 1Malaysia Entrepreneurship (1MET) will help spur entrepreneurs forward," it said.

Pikom also said that it is appreciative of the government for responding to its call for a single Information Communication Technology Ministry.

"With Multimedia Development Corp (MDeC) now under the fold of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia, this will mitigate the risk of overlap of accountability between ministries; and augur well for the industry," said Woon.

The ICT industry has been charting a 10% average growth yearly for the last five years.

The industry is now worth at RM55 billion and targeted to hit RM100 billion by 2017 and a contribution of 20% to the country's GDP by 2020.

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