By P PREM KUMAR & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By AFIF ABD HALIM
The government plans to build a Mara Digital Mall in every state to increase the involvement of Bumiputera in the local information and communications technology (ICT) retail market.
Rural and Regional Development Deputy Minister Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi said the government will begin the process to build Mara Digital Malls in every state.
“Our long-term objective is to expand Mara Digital Mall into the district, which would be similar to the ones we have at Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) arcades,” he said in Parliament yesterday, in response to Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi Chuan Aun who asked about the business volume at the first Mara Digital Mall in Kuala Lumpur.
Alexander said two more Mara Digital Malls will begin operating next year in Melaka and Johor, four currently operating in Kuala Lumpur, Shah Alam, Ipoh and Kuantan.
“The Mara Digital Mall in Kuala Lumpur has been well received based on its recorded sales volume of RM28.3 million, with all 40 spaces fully occupied, since its inception in December 2015,” he said.
Alexander said the Shah Alam mall, which has been operating since July 2016, has recorded RM2.3 million.
The Mara malls in Ipoh, Perak, and Kuantan, Pahang, which opened in October are also fully occupied, he said.
Alexander said the ministry does not want the Bumiputeras to be left behind in ICT-related businesses, taking into account that they are also the main buyers of ICT gadgets.
“The digital economy is growing rapidly, and while the government supports many local and foreign e commerce players in our country, we need to make sure the Bumiputeras are not left behind,” he said.
Alexander added the government is waiving rental fees for six months at Mara Digital Malls to help Bumiputera vendors start their business, as well as attract tenants.
Alexander said customers at Mara Digital Malls should be assured that the products are genuine because government agencies would constantly check against counterfeits.
He said the government would also link Mara entrepreneurs with e-commerce giants like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
“We will work closely with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry on encouraging the Bumiputera entrepreneurs from Mara Digital Malls to collaborate with other industry players from countries like China.
“I believe with this expansion, we will get more Bumiputera entrepreneurs to be engaged in the digital economy, which will in turn improve their quality and potential in the digital world,” he said.