In its journey towards achieving greater economic progress, Malaysia could take further steps to unlock the full potential of its digital economy says a new World Bank report launched here today. The report, ‘Malaysia’s Digital Economy: A New Driver of Development,’ summarizes the work of a program managed by the World Bank Group Global Knowledge and Research Hub in Malaysia in collaboration with the Malaysian Ministry of Finance and other partners. The report assesses available policy options to boost the impact of the digital economy on economic growth, job creation, innovation and public revenues.
“The year-long work program on Malaysia’s digital economy is a great example of close collaboration between the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank with the goal of boosting productivity and generating new jobs especially for the youth”,” said Dato’ Ir Haji Amiruddin Hamzah, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Finance in Malaysia, who launched the report at a conference co-organized by the Malaysian Ministry of Finance and the World Bank Group’s Global Knowledge and Research Hub in Kuala Lumpur.
According to the report, Malaysia’s past performance offers substantial optimism about the future of its digital economy. Homegrown entrepreneurial talent has led to the establishment of some of Southeast Asia’s most recognizable digital startups. In 2016, Malaysia also became the first country in the world to establish a Digital Free Trade Zone, a special trade zone providing a state-of-the-art platform for small and medium-sized enterprises to promote e-commerce.
“Malaysia is doing many things right to promote its digital economy as a new engine of growth – ranging from digitizing the delivery of public services to broadening connectivity to promoting digital entrepreneurship,” said Mara Warwick, Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. “Yet more can be done to encourage Malaysia’s business sector to make better use of available digital technologies. Currently, big firms dominate e-commerce, leaving SMEs with a small share of the overall rewards. Moreover, lack of competition in the fixed broadband market has resulted in services being slower and more expensive than they should be. Addressing these challenges will go far in unlocking the full potential of Malaysia’s digital economy,” she added.
The report highlights four important policy goals for unlocking the full potential of the digital economy in Malaysia. These goals are: (i) creating a more dynamic digital ecosystem with increased competition; (ii) achieving universal, fast, and inexpensive internet connectivity; (iii) improving human capital through better curricula and life-long learning opportunities; and (iv) safeguarding future digital tax revenues.
The report also underscores the importance of maximizing the benefits of the digital economy for all Malaysians and for minimizing any adverse effects on equal access to digital services.