Govt investing RM22b in NFCP over the next 5 years

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

THE government is investing RM21.6 billion via public-private partnerships in the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP) for the next five years beginning 2019 until 2023.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng (picture) said the NFCP will widen the coverage of high-quality and high-speed broadband Internet nationally, while also ensuring the services are affordable.

“This will lay the groundwork for a comprehensive implementation of 5G in Malaysia, and give Malaysia a first-mover advantage in the era of Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0),” he said at the 60th Pan-Asian e-commerce Alliance Steering Committee Meeting in Kuala Lumpur recently.

In 2018, the government reformed the broadband market by implementing the mandatory standard on access pricing, which has made the market more competitive and access cost being cut by at least 30%.

Lim also said the government is executing a plan to provide RM20.7 billion worth of cash and non-cash incentives over the next five years to assist companies to transition to IR4.0.

“After all, either you digitalise, or you will not survive. This is the reality that we have to face.

“If we look at the total amount announced in Budget 2020, both fiscal hardware and the software, it amounts to RM50.3 billion over five years,” he said.

With this, the government plans to aid the digitalisation and future-proofing of the nation’s economy by investing in digital infrastructure, reforming broadband market and urging both small and large businesses to accelerate towards IR4.0.

To date, the digitalisation progress has raised the country’s ranking from the 15th to 12th place in 2019 to 2020 respectively, according to the World’s Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index, which was supported by the National Single Window for Trade Facilitation.

The one-stop trade facilitation system links the trading community with relevant government agencies and various other trade and logistics players via a single window.

It has been operated by Dagang Net Technologies Sdn Bhd since 2009, which has connected over 25,000 users and processed over 100 million electronic transactions annually.

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the digital economy comprises 18.5% of the country’s GDP in 2018, and the government plans to push the share higher, in line with the International Data Corp’s forecast of 21% by 2022.

Lim also added that in order to push digitalisation initiatives, private sectors should also lead to raise competitiveness to benefit the nation.

“This is why we advocate the 4P partnership — involving the public sector, the private sector, the professionals and the people, and such collaboration will not only enhance the outcomes, but more importantly, it gets everyone involved.

“We believe for the economy to be propelled forward, it needs to be private-sector led,” he said.

He added that on the topic of the nation’s economy, the country cannot avoid the impact of external factors, namely the trade war between China and the US.

“However, the Malaysian economy has performed more resiliently than others. In the second quarter of 2019, Malaysia’s GDP grew 4.9% year-on-year, which is faster than the 4.5% growth in the previous quarter.

“For the whole of 2019, the government projects the Malaysian GDP to expand at 4.7%,” he said.

Research houses such as Maybank Investment Bank Bhd and CGS-CIMB Securities Sdn Bhd in reports have forecasted lower economic growth at 4.3% and 4.6% respectively.