Embrace digital economy

Awang Tengah (centre) receives a souvenir from Arham (second left) while from left Assistant Minister for Industries and Investment Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, Assistant Minister for Entreprenuer and Small Nedium Entrepreneur (SME) Development and Assistant Minister for E-Commerce Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais and Permanent Secretary Ministry of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development (MIED) Sarawak Datuk Liaw Soon Eng look on. Photo: Ramidi Subari

KUCHING: Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are urged to embrace the Digital Economy and tap into a bigger customer base through e-commerce and digital platforms.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said embracing the Digital Economy was a global trend, hence local SMEs needed to adopt new ways to conduct their businesses.

“The state government had recently established the Sarawak Multimedia Authority to spearhead the State Digital Economy Initiatives as well as setting aside RM1 billion to upgrade the telecommunication infrastructure,” he said yesterday when he officiated at the Sarawak Domestic Investment Seminar at Pullman Hotel here.

Awang Tengah, who is the Industrial and Entrepreneur Development Minister, said his ministry along with Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and other agencies had organised a series of awareness programmes on Industry 4.0.

“At the same time, the state government is building quality infrastructure to establish good connectivity as well as to stimulate economic growth in the rural regions.

“Apart from the RM16.48 billion funded by the federal government for the construction of the Pan Borneo Highway, the state government is allocating RM5 billion to upgrade the Coastal Road and bridges and RM6billion for the Second Trunk Road, RM2.8 billion for the water supply, RM2.37 billion for Rural Electrification Scheme, RM1.5 billion each for Upper Rajang Development Authority (URDA), Highland Development Authority (HDA) and Northern Region Development Authority (NRDA),” he added.

Awang Tengah (centre) receives a souvenir from Arham (second left) while from left Assistant Minister for Industries and Investment Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, Assistant Minister for Entreprenuer and Small Nedium Entrepreneur (SME) Development and Assistant Minister for E-Commerce Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais and Permanent Secretary Ministry of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development (MIED) Sarawak Datuk Liaw Soon Eng look on. Photo: Ramidi Subari

Awang Tengah noted that Sarawak had a relatively smaller market due to the small population (2.8 million), thus in order to grow, it was necessary for the SMEs to go regional and global to ensure the long term sustainability of their businesses.

“Towards this goal, the state government together with the federal government through various agencies such as MIDA, Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), SME Corp, Ministry of Industrial and Entrepreneur Development (Mied), Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MiTEC), are committed in assisting and facilitating our SMEs to grow big and become global players through adoption of modern technologies, creativity and innovation.

“There are many programmes to support SMEs, not only capacity building but also financial assistance, in the form of grant or loan for the local entrepreneurs. Besides, there are also programmes for the SMEs to market their products globally,” he elaborated.

Awang Tengah further added that the private sector, as the engine of growth must grab the opportunities created by government initiatives as the government could only facilitate.

“I look forward to seeing more local SMEs go into high tech and high value-added ventures. We cannot continue to rely on low cost, low tech and labour-intensive strategies to grow our industries. Together, let us build a business landscape that is innovative, creative and sustainable, focusing on the future.”

Earlier, MIDA deputy chief executive officer Arham Abdul Rahman said the government had provided many opportunities for companies to move towards in the Industry 4.0 through various initiatives.

“These included incentive packages such as the Pioneer Status (PS), Investment Tax Allowance (ITA) and the Domestic Investment Strategic Fund (DISF).

“There are also tax incentives for the production of robotics; the Automation Capital Allowance to encourage automation in the manufacturing industry; and the Soft Loan Scheme for Automation and Modernisation (SLAM) to enhance manufacturing processes, upgrade production capability and capacity, and diversify into higher value-added activities,” he revealed.

He urged companies, particularly domestic players to take full advantage of the facilities.