COVID-19 a blessing in disguise for digital economy


ONE lesson that the coronavirus outbreak taught the local business community is that digital platforms can help them to sustain their business and remain relevant.

As such, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) has called for more public-private partnerships to take full advantage of the opportunities that the digital economy has to offer.

“We would like to call upon the private sectors and the government, small and big corporations as well as agencies to work together to really get this right,” said chief executive officer Surina Shukri on Bernama TV’s Ruang Bicara talkshow programme last night, titled “Penjana: Ekonomi Digital”.

She said many entrepreneurs had benefited from going digital during the movement control order (MCO), citing the example of a local ‘kuih’ seller whose sales had quadrupled during the MCO as she started selling her products via an online platform.

Sales of fast-moving consumer goods via e-commerce platforms had also spiked by 40 per cent as Malaysians adhered to the movement restriction order, she said, adding that this year, the Malaysian digital economy is expected to contribute around 20 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP).

Surina said Malaysia’s digital economy has been growing steadily over the last two years, contributing RM270 billion or 18.5 per cent to the GDP in 2018.

She also urged companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to adopt a long-term mindset to sustain their business and stay relevant during this period, where global economies are edging closer towards recession.

“It’s about time we leverage the digital platform,” she said, adding that many business owners had no choice but to take their business online during the MCO due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent movement restrictions, which left them unable to operate their business in the usual way.

Recently, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had unveiled the RM35 billion short-term Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA) which focused on three main components: empowering the people, propelling businesses and stimulating the economy.

MDEC has been tasked to spearhead the onboarding of micro-entrepreneurs and SMEs in e-commerce with a RM140 million matching grant, as well as a RM35 million allocation to spur the digital creative content industry.

Another RM25 million has also been allocated for its Global Online Workforce (GLOW) programme, which is aimed at training Malaysians to earn an income as freelancers in the global digital economy.