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Budget: Pikom seeks affordability of ICT products, services

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 (Bernama) -- The National ICT Association of Malaysia (Pikom) has expressed the hope that the government would improve the affordability and availability of information and communications technology (ICT) goods and services in the 2017 Budget, saying this would benefit the public.

In a statement today, Pikom said the move would also help to expose school children to computer coding and programming under the [email protected] programme, introduced this year in the 2016 Budget under the Accelerating Innovation and Entrepreneurship incentive.

"We also recommend that ICT products and services be Zero-Rated Goods and Services Tax (GST) to boost demand and encourage the development of a connected and knowledge-based community.

"This would have a direct impact on most Malaysians, notably the lower- and middle-income groups," said Pikom Chairman Chin Chee Seong.

He said since the implementation of the GST on April 1, 2015 and the weakening ringgit against the US dollar, the local ICT sector has experienced a slowdown, mostly by the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Chin said SMEs contribute some 31 per cent to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employ about 56 per cent of the local workforce.

He said Pikom also hopes the government would allow a double tax deduction on cost incurred (up to a capped amount) for individuals pursuing ICT-related certified programmes and a double tax deduction claim for companies that bear the training cost.

"We also recommend an income tax deduction of RM3,000 once every two years for personal computers and smartphones instead of the current three years, and allow Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawals for ICT product purchases.

"In addition, the government should take further action to foster greater industry competition and regulate pricing of broadband rates in the country.

A regional benchmarking comparison should be in place to ensure that we remain a competitive ICT nation. This should cover speed, coverage and quality of service," said Chin.



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