IBM Malaysia Hails Budget 2023’s Realistic Hard Facts For Boosting Economy

IBM Malaysia Managing Director Catherine Lian

Edited by Melissa Duis

KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 – The government has been commended by IBM Malaysia Sdn Bhd for “biting the bullet” and “being realistic with hard facts” when it recently re-tabled Budget 2023.

IBM Malaysia managing director Catherine Lian said in a statement today that the Budget 2023 has set the path for Malaysia’s further economic recovery and sustainability while addressing leakages to spur greater productivity for the country.

“With 12 main efforts based on three determinations — inclusive and sustainable economic drive, institutional and governance reforms to restore confidence, and social justice to moderate disparities — Budget 2023 reflects economic and political realities post-pandemic,” she said.

Lian also described Budget 2023 as expansionary in nature with an allocation of RM388.1 billion comprising RM289.1 billion operating expenditure and RM99 billion development expenditure.

“Fundamentally, it is based on the basic rule that the taxpayers’ ringgit has to be spent to address a wide range of policy areas, ranging from social support systems, infrastructure initiatives, public sector modernisation and more importantly, revenue management,” she said.

Lian said Budget 2023 or the Madani Budget also brought forth policy priorities of the Unity Government that moved with the times while being forward looking for the public sector, businesses and the rakyat.

For example, the RM50 million in matching grants to promote automation in the plantation sector through the use of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) demonstrated Malaysia’s “digital first” stance for the sector to move up the value chain while also creating employment for skilled workers.

Lian said the use of AI and robotics should see the plantation sector transforming itself to realise higher yield and productivity while overcome increasing demand and disruptive forces.

“Innovation in this field does attempt to grab the bull by the horns as the industry had previously faced challenges such as rising costs of supplies, a shortage of labour, and changes in consumer preferences for transparency and sustainability,” she added.

At its end, IBM Malaysia said it is committed to driving collaboration across industries to help Malaysia realise the value of a digital economy underpinned by hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) as two dominant forces driving digital transformation.

IBM Malaysia is also encouraged by the SME Digitalisation Grant with Lian saying that it was imperative that the government continued to promote digital adoption.

“With SMEs being the cornerstone of the Malaysian economy, it is more imperative than ever that businesses view technology as an investment and not a cost. Technology enables businesses to do more with less, optimise appropriately while also opening up new markets and revenue streams in today’s progressively borderless world,” Lian said.

In this regard, she said SMEs needed to engage with technology partners who can give them access to the relevant technologies and also can help them address all these requirements through robust processes and management tools and practices.

IBM cloud solutions, said Lian, can help SMEs have access to the capacity, security, and services they need to keep their operations running.

“By implementing advanced technologies, they are unable to tackle business challenges that demand minimum disruption to business operations, delivery of mission-critical operations and new ways of working,” she added.

Lian also said the RM1billion for training under HRDCorp could prove instrumental in ensuring that Malaysians continue to upskill and reskill themselves with appropriate knowledge and expertise, more so within today’s Digital Economy which currently contributes 22.6 percent of GDP and expected to rise to 25.5 percent of GDP by 2025.

She also said the structural and policy reform surrounding investment promotion and facilitation was vital for mature multinational companies such as IBM who have been in the country for more than 60 years, adding that in order for higher-value activities to land itself in Malaysia, the government’s support would have to go beyond the traditional fiscal/tax-based incentives.

From the employment, education and talent development aspects, IBM Malaysia is encouraged by the following measures to be introduced – more so since an IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study has found that a significant shortage of required digital talents is cited as one of the top challenges for businesses in the Digital Economy era.

On the gig economy, IBM Malaysia viewed that the training fees for gig workers who undergo the micro-credential skills development programmes to be borne by the government, with a liability of up to RM4,000 as a realistic move as quite a number of Malaysians, especially youths, have participated/are keen to participate in the gig economy.

IBM Malaysia also viewed the government’s aim to create 35,000 job opportunities through jobs placements in government-related companies, especially for youth, TVET graduates, vulnerable groups, and veterans would ensure that more Malaysians are gainfully employed.

Lian said IBM Malaysia would continue with its nation- building efforts for Malaysia.

A recent example is its introduction of the ‘SkillsBuild’ initiative in Malaysia, a free and open online learning programme that aims to empower job seekers and

entrepreneurs with professional workplace readiness and technical skills. Jobseekers can gain access to a wide portfolio of interactive courses in various languages, tap 1:1 coaching tools, complete portfolio-building projects, and earn credentials to showcase their skills to potential employers

“In summary, the (Budget 2023) announcements made are balanced to meet the needs of the many. We look forward to effective implementation and more policy-based reforms to ensure that the focus is in building competitiveness that is sustainable in the long run,” Lian said.