Budget Wish List 2020: By Sushil Singh, Chief Growth Officer, Sage Asia
● Improved Digital Infrastructure for the Outskirts of Malaysia
● Supporting Growing Businesses through Development Schemes
● Driving the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Improved Digital Infrastructure For Outskirts of Malaysia
Helping SMEs thrive is a priority as they make up the vast majority of businesses in Malaysia. It’s our passion at Sage, to help businesses grow and we cannot stress enough how crucial a robust digital infrastructure is to help businesses realize their growth potential in today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape. As it stands, much of the digital infrastructure such as the soon to be tested 5G service network, existing fibre optic network and broadband services are often concentrated within the urban areas of Malaysia, however there is a huge potential in the outskirts and the growing states of Sabah and Sarawak.

This is a priority as there are many burgeoning SMEs and even larger enterprises setting up and growing outside of the urban areas. The migration of manufacturing operations to outlying areas such as emerging small towns like Muar has boosted the local economies. It is undeniable that the availability of digital infrastructure is critical in enabling them to adopt new technologies such as IoT, BigData and AI. The growing regions of East Malaysia would benefit from improved infrastructure by leveraging on the greater use of technology to improve productivity and efficiency. As such, gaps in infrastructure and connectivity need to be addressed with urgency.

Supporting Growing Businesses through Development Schemes
All businesses, especially SMEs, struggle with heavy financial cost, lack of visibility, strategic management and the inability to fulfil their potential. Existing development schemes and programmes have been good initiatives but the government should take an intentional effort to review the effectiveness of existing public programmes meant to help SMEs. This is to make the schemes less complex and easier to access and complete via online and mobile capabilities.

The budget should provide support for and setup of more incubation labs and Centres of Excellence (CoEs) which provide real world solutions leveraging emerging technologies such as IoT, blockchain, AI and Machine Learning. This would have a 2-fold impact to the economy by creating home grown IP and innovation specific to the needs of local Malaysian companies. Secondly, such incubation labs will enable local technology adopters to embrace technology quicker, via local use cases (success stories) which can illustrate how a particular technology is able to resolve specific issues for businesses.

Driving The Entrepreneurial Spirit
More effective incentives could be introduced for Malaysians to take the leap into embracing entrepreneurship, given this is vital to the continued growth and evolution of the Malaysian economy. Innovative incentive schemes, tax breaks, grants and educational programs that motivate and support aspiring business owners to start their entrepreneurial journey, should be a further focus.

Entrepreneurship has taken on a heightened global significance for governments looking to boost growth and employment and is also seen as a remedy for socio-economic challenges such as the wide income disparity. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s highlight on innovative financing to help modify the financing ecosystem is one that we applaud as this would help diversify lending and promote borrowing opportunities to SMEs. An SME business-friendly budget policy is one which is highly desirable in realizing PM Mahathir’s Shared Prosperity Vision 2030.


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