No plans to sell DNB shares for 5G infrastructure funding

The cost for 5G rollout will be fully funded by DNB via available funding in the market, says minister

 pic by BLOOMBERG

THE government has no intention to sell shares of Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) to local service providers in assisting the development of 5G infrastructure in the country.

Deputy Finance Minister II Yamani Hafez Musa said based on the tender process implemented by DNB, the cost for the nationwide 5G rollout in the next 10 years will be RM11 billion, lower than the initial estimate of RM15 billion.

“The cost will be fully funded by DNB via available funding in the market, as well as income that DNB will generate without involving any funding from the government.

“Therefore, there is no need to sell shares of DNB to local telecommunication companies to help fund the 5G infrastructure in the country,” he said in the ministerial winding up speech in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Following the memorandum of understanding between the government and the Opposition pact, he said both parties have initiated discussions on Budget 2022 ahead of its tabling in Parliament in the next sitting.

He said the government is committed to hold discussions with the Opposition to ensure proposals and measures taken under Budget 2022 will prioritise the people’s safety and wellbeing as well as continuity of businesses.

“In the spirit of mutual agreement especially between both parties in the effort to recover from the effects of Covid-19, the government hopes further discussions on Budget 2022 will run smoothly and gain collective approvals from all parties.

In his speech, Yamani Hafez responded to Pekan MP Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s proposal to raise the limit for i-Citra withdrawal.

He said the matter requires a holistic study by considering all forms of assistance that have been and will be provided by the government to the public to lessen their financial burden.

“Consideration towards the proposal should also take into account the need to balance current needs and the importance of retirement savings as the country is expected to face an aging nation in the coming 10 to 15 years,” said the deputy minister.

He also noted that Port Dickson MP Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s proposal regarding the loan moratorium where the latter requested for the government to provide interest payment exemption for bank loan moratoriums for three months in the fourth quarter of the year.

Yamani Hafez said the government is still discussing the matter with banking institutions as it involves commercial decisions between the banks, board of directors and their respective shareholders.

Another topic that was frequently raised by MPs during their Royal Address debate was on the implementation of windfall tax towards companies that raked in profits during the pandemic.

The deputy minister said the government welcomed the proposals by all parties who were aware of the income needed by the government to implement Covid-19 recovery plan, especially towards assisting those deeply impacted by the economic downturn.

“The government is considering several options to increase its income including taxing profits made out of stock investments and imposing higher one-off tax to companies that generated extraordinary profits during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Additional income from the one-off tax will be used to fund recovery activities or programmes especially for targeted groups,” he said.